Trumpeter Eddie Allen Will Win You Over

by Elizabeth Hoover    /  December 6, 2010  / No comments

Musicians of the 2010 Jazz Poetry Concert

Video editing and production by Glen Wood

Trumpeter Eddie Allen doesn’t want to talk minor fifths or tremolo technique with his audience. He just wants to know if they enjoyed the music. “My biggest kick is when someone who doesn’t know jazz lets me try to win them over,” he told Sampsonia Way. “I ask, ‘did it make you tap your foot? Yes?’ Good. That’s all I wanted.”

This doesn’t mean that Allen isn’t a master of technique. His ability to manipulate and control his trumpet was singled out for praised by W. Royal Stokes of the Washington Post, who described Allen as “a horn man to watch.”

He has played with jazz greats such at Art Blakely, Dizzy Gillespie, and Billy Harper.

As a member of the New York City music scene, he is known for his versatility and plays with jazz, Latin, and pop groups as well as in the orchestras of Broadway shows. He is also the founder of Sãlongo, a 7-piece band that brings together Afro-Cuban and Brazilian music to create a fresh and inventive sound—one that is sure to make you tap your feet.

George Kanzler of the Newark Star-Ledger wrote that Allen’s playing is marked “by a playful inventiveness underscored by a slightly husky, almost vocal, tone.” Allen himself hears the human voice not only in the trumpet, but also in every other instrument. He believes the “voice” of every player contributes something crucial the listener’s experience and understands jazz as a storytelling genre. These are principles that inform his captivating compositions and arrangements.

Although Allen has played with the best and is considered one of the best, snobbery gets under his skin. “As soon as you start saying your music is above the average person, how can you expect to fill a place?” he asked. “If we remember we are playing for an audience and we want to make them listen and enjoy the music, people will come hear us play.”

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About the Author

Elizabeth Hoover earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Indiana University, where she received a Project on African Expressive Traditions grant and the Won-Joon Yon Scholarship for Racial Tolerance. She has written for American Heritage, Life, and Poets and Writers. Her criticism has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. She has published poetry in The Adirondack Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and the Atlanta Review. Recently, New Letters nominated her for a Pushcart Prize. Hoover is a former associate editor at Sampsonia Way.

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