The Pete Allen 45th Anniversary Album
The album has just been released and here are Pete’s sleeve notes for the album with track listings and the band.
“I cannot believe that I’ve been leading my band for 45 years!
It was on the 1st of October 1978 that my Dad, who played banjo and guitar, and I agreed we should have a go and join the professional ranks of jazz. We invited four other talented musicians to join us –
Campbell Burnap trombone, John Armatage drums, Janusz Carmello trumpet, and Tony Bagot bass.
At that time we were playing a weekly residency at the Old Wagon and amp; Horses in Newbury’s marketplace but extra gigs were fast filling up the diary as we were prepared to travel the UK to play our
kind style of happy jazz! We attracted capacity audiences throughout the clubs and festivals and I must admit our appearances on the BBC popular lunchtime magazine programme ‘Pebble Mill at
One’ along with regular plays on BBC Radio Two certainly helped to achieve this.
I shall never forget two conversations I had with Kenny Ball. On the first one, he gave me six months but then congratulated me some 30 years later having made a name for myself – without hit records. In those early years, we travelled in an old Ford Transit minibus which Dad had rescued from the scrap yard and put a reconditioned engine under the bonnet. However, after playing a three-week tour of Germany in February 1979 it gave up the ghost as we limped home on three cylinders.
Shortly after our prayers were answered when Halls Brewery Oxford sponsored us with a brand new vehicle in return for agreeing to appear every Monday evening at the Head of the River. During the summer months between six and seven hundred excitable young jazz fans attended. In the winter it was standing room only when due to weather we were forced to play inside. We even had a fan club organised and run by Wendy and Jim – two loyal fans of the band.
Well, the years rolled on and we continued to keep a very busy touring schedule coupled with many TV and radio broadcasts. However, personnel changes have always occurred due to various reasons as one would expect, but I have always managed to lead a team of much respected musicians. Most musicians who have been regular members are listed in my autobiography – ‘On the Beat’.
I have been so lucky to have my music released on various LPs and CDs and my great relationship with the Upbeat Jazz label continues.
Looking back over the years, I am just full of happy memories and stories, some sad, especially on a personal level, but most of the time my life as a professional band leader has been filled with happiness, doing what I do best, and entertaining the public! I shall never forget performing for the annual Sacramento Jazz Festival USA which we played three times in the 1980s and our National Trust events over the years at prestigious UK venues where again the band attracted audiences in their thousands.
Before Covid struck I was also a regular guest artist at the Caveau de la Huchette in Paris which led me to be engaged at numerous French festivals in the South of the country playing my tribute show to Sidney Bechet. The French shows featured my good friend Dave Herridge on piano who had spent time with my band here in the UK before he moved to Paris. I am proud of Craig Milverton, Nick Millward, Ben Cummings, Richie Burns, and Ian Bateman who spent their early years as regular members of my band. These fine musicians have since gone on to make names for themselves in their own right.
After the sad loss of my late wife Chrissie, I have since re-married to Nicky who has given me the strength and motivation to continue these recent years to keep the flag flying for both British traditional jazz and my band. My lovely doggie, Charlie, also travels to most gigs and can be spotted sleeping under the tables as his master blows his jazzy notes!
My present band featured on this 45th Anniversary album in my mind ‘Blow a Storm’ always giving more than 100 percent at ‘live’ engagements. We all get on so well and I think that really comes across in our performances. For the future, I don’t think I shall make another 45 years, but as long as there is an audience for our music then I will hang in to keep you entertained.
Thank you to all those who have followed me throughout this time. I appreciate your support and I hope you enjoy the music that we have put together for this album which is a cross-section of our
‘live’ repertoire today.”
The band: Pete Allen (clarinet, sax, vocals, and banjo), Roger Marks (trombone), Chris Hodgkins (trumpet), James Clemas (keyboard and vocals), Dave Hanratty (bass), Jim Newton (drums)
“The band, whilst retaining its early New Orleans feel, is now a much more swinging, mainstream slanted, band – after almost half a century I’d have expected nothing less!” Lance Liddle, Bebop Spoken Here
“This is unpretentious feel-good music played by musicianss who are clearly happy in each other’s company and who never fail to give 100% to their performance.” Alan Musson, The Jazz Rag
“The Music is the very definition of ‘eclectic’ and the playing is of the highest order.” Barry Clare, Just Jazz
The track listings:
1 Just A Little While To Stay Here
2 The JAMFS Are Coming
3 Then I’ll Be Happy
4 Beale Street Mama
6 Everybody Loves My Baby
7 Mean To Me
8 At The Darktown Strutter’s Ball
9 Do YouMind
10 Charlie’s Dream
12 Good For Nothing
13 Anniversary Boogie
14 Thinking Of You
15 April Showers
Recorded at Sidmouth Conservative Club on the 19th and 20th of June 2023. Issued on Upbeat Jazz. Catalogue number: URCD337
CDs and the Pete Allen autobiography, “On the Beat” can be purchased at all the gigs or email Jane for copies: firstname.lastname@example.org