Personnel: Henry "Red" Allen (trumpet); Jim Douglas (guitar); Al Gay (clarinet, tenor saxophone); Alex Welsh (trumpet); Roy Williams (trombone); Fred Hunt (piano); Lennie Hastings (drums).
Recording information: 1967.
The great New Orleans trumpeter Henry "Red" Allen passed away on April 17, 1967, from pancreatic cancer. After he was diagnosed as terminal, he made a final tour of England, playing with Alex Welsh's septet. The previously unreleased music on this CD came out for the first time in 2001 and is taken from that tour. Allen sounds surprisingly strong on trumpet and is quite cheerful, yelling out encouragement to the other musicians. The British Dixieland band -- which includes trumpeter Welsh, trombonist Roy Williams, and Al Gay on clarinet and tenor -- is excellent and was clearly pleased to have this final opportunity to play with Allen. Highlights include "At the Jazz Band Ball," "Canal Street Blues," and "Rosetta." There is an excess of times when a song concludes and then restarts again due to the applause, but Allen's spirited playing and the good vibes make this historic release (Red Allen's last recordings) of strong interest to New Orleans jazz fans. ~ Scott Yanow