Carl Allen with Jazz The Story, 100 years of Jazz Recordings at the North Sea Jazz Festival 2017.
Nicolas Bearde (narrator); Eric Alexander, James Carter, Vincent Herring (saxophone); Jon Faddis, Jeremy Pelt (trumpet); Steve Turre (trombone); Mike Ledonne (piano); Kenny Davis (double bass); Carl Allen (drums). open album
The pursuit of knowledge, experience, and ever-present swing is a recurring theme in the life of drummer/composer and Milwaukee native Carl Allen.
It's a theme that began to take shape when, as a teenager, he performed with such greats as Sonny Stitt and James Moody and it's a theme to which he held fast as his musical quest took him to The University of Wisconsin - Green Bay (1979-81) and New Jersey's William Patterson College (1981-83). While at William Patterson, he pursued his life-long dream -- the drum chair in trumpeter Freddie Hubbard's band. He got the position in 1982 and remained with Hubbard for eight years - also serving as the trumpeter's musical director and road manager.
Carl Allen says, "My ultimate goal is to get to a level like Art Blakey, Art Taylor, Elvin Jones and Billy Higgins and these cats who, every time they sit down behind a set of drums it's swinging. The power of swing is something else and once I get to that level everything else falls into place."
Born on April 25, 1961, Allen grew up on gospel, R&B, and funk, but later turned to jazz after hearing an LP by the legendary saxophonist Benny Carter. He studied with drum instructor Roy Sneider and band director Robert Siemele. His first hometown gigs were with sax greats Sonny Stitt and James Moody. Allen studied at The University of Wisconsin at Green Bay from 1979 to 1981, and transferred to William Patterson College in New Jersey, where he graduated in 1983 with a Bachelorís Degree in Jazz Studies and Performance. Allen joined trumpeter Freddie Hubbard a year before his graduation, served as his Musical Director for eight years, and recorded several recordings with the trumpeter including Double Take and Life Flight. Allen also played with Michael Brecker, Randy Brecker, Benny Golson, Jennifer Holliday, J.J. Johnson, Rickie Lee Jones, Sammy Davis Jr., Branford Marsalis, Kenny Garrett, Lena Horne, Ruth Brown, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Bobby Hutcherson, Mike Stern, Nellie McKay, Terence Blanchard, Phil Woods, Benny Green, Cyrus Chestnut, Joe Henderson, Billy Childs and many others. Allenís phenomenal sideman discography also includes Jackie McLean (Dynasty), Donald Harrison (Indian Blues, Noveau Swing), Donald Byrd (A City Called Heaven), and Art Farmer (The Company I Keep).
Piccadilly Square (Timeless) was Allenís first CD as leader, released in 1989, followed by The Dark Side of Dewey (Evidence), The Pursuer (Atlantic), Testimonial (Atlantic), and Get Ready, his 2007 Mack Avenue gospel/Motown accented debut release with co-leader, bassist Rodney Whitaker.
Carl Allen is also an accomplished businessman. He co-founded Big Apple Productions in 1988 with saxophonist Vincent Herring, produced several recordings for several Japanese labels with future stars Roy Hargrove and Nicholas Payton, and created The Art of Elvin, a tribute band dedicated to his two drum influences. He currently leads his exceptional quintet and Carl Allen & New Spirit as well as being the co-leader of the Allen-Whitaker Project with bassist Rodney Whitaker. Allen also produced recordings for pianist Eric Reed, Dewey Redman. Pharoah Sanders, Freddie Hubbard and guitarist Lage Lund, the winner of the 2005 Thelonious Monk International Monk Competition and many others totaling nearly 70 credits as a producer. A talented educator, Allen has served on the jazz faculty at Julliard since 2001 as coordinator of Small Ensembles and drum instructor. Currently I am serving as the Interim Artistic Director of Jazz Studies.
Carl Allenís multifaceted career provides the perfect template for what a modern musician should be. As Sid Gribetz of Jazz Times wrote, ď[m]ore than just another fine drummer, Carl Allen has it all together as a bandleader, businessman, and producer, becoming a force in todayís jazz world.Ē
Carl Allen maintains an exhaustive schedule of recording, touring and teaching. He remains active as a leader (most recently co-leading The Carl Allen - Rodney Whitaker Project, leading The Carl Allen & The Art of Elvin - a musical tribute to Art Blakey and Elvin Jones), New Spirit and as an in-demand sideman (recent recordings with Jackie Ryan, Wayne Escoffery, Alex Graham, Barbara King and many others).