Many would argue that the 1933-34 Henderson orchestra was the premier swing band of the 1930's. The group's superb personnel, combined with the extraordinary arranging talents of Fletcher and Horace Henderson, led to a number of jazz's most influential and important recordings, many featuring Hawkins and Allen solos. Many an improvised Allen solo was written into, and became a permanent part of, an Henderson arrangement. Much of Red's work on these sides is analyzed extensively in Schuller's The Swing Era. Financially, 1934 was a tough year for jazz bands and the Henderson orchestra was disbanded in late summer. In October, the Benny Goodman band was in a similar position and Goodman, along with John Hammond and Benny Carter, attempted to organize a European tour featuring more than a dozen well-known American musicians, including Red. The all-star group was to include personnel selected from a number of the best bands of the day, both black and white. However, according to down beat (Dec. 1934) problems with British booking agents could not be worked out and the tour never materialized.
In the fall of 1934 Red - along with his colleague, the great trombonist J.C. Higginbotham - joined Irving Mills' Blue Rhythm Band where he would remain until October 1936. The Mills Blue Rhythm Band often served as backup for Mills' other two major bands - Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington - and also accompanied several popular vocalists of the day. The band recorded for Columbia and in spite of the commercial nature of the sessions produced several notable recordings. The band consisted of top musicians and included a great brass section(22k jpeg). During this period Red also made many recordings under his own name, and some of the sides on the Collector's Classics label (CC13) - Henry Allen and His Orchestra, 1934-35, Volume 1 - are considered by many to represent some of his finest. From October through December, 1936 he often played at NYC's Hickory House with a group led by Eddie Condon and Joe Marsala. This quintet - which also included Joe Bushkin and Morty Stuhlmaker - was one of the first racially integrated groups to perform on 52nd street. Earlier in 1936, Red had recorded with Condon and Marsala, backing vocalist Putney Dandridge.
As a bandleader, Allen recorded for Victor from 1929 through 1930. He made a series of recordings as co-leader with Coleman Hawkins in 1933 for ARC (Banner, Melotone, Oriole, Perfect, Romeo, etc.) and continued on as an ARC recording artist through 1935, when he was moved over to ARC's Vocalion label for a popular series of swing records from 1935 through late 1937. A number of these were quite popular at the time. He did a solitary session for Decca in 1940 and two sessions for OKeh in 1941. After World War II, he recorded for Brunswick in 1944, Victor in 1946, and Apollo in 1947.
Allen continued making many recordings under his own name, as well as recording with Fats Waller and Jelly Roll Morton, and accompanying such vocalists as Victoria Spivey and Billie Holiday. After a short stint with Benny Goodman, Allen started leading his own band at The Famous Door in Manhattan. He then toured with the band around the USA into the late 1950s.
In December 1957, Red Allen made an appearance on the "Sound Of Jazz" television show. In 1959 Allen made his first tour of Europe when he joined Kid Ory's band. From 1954 until the club ceased its jazz policy in 1965, Allen led the house band at New York's Metropole Cafe.
4/29/35 NYC., HENRY ALLEN & HIS ORCH. : Red Allen (t, v) Dicky Wells (tb) Cecil Scott (cl) Leon Chu Berry (ts) Horace Henderson (p) Bernard Addison (g) John Kirby (b) George Stafford (d)