Born on April 25, 1961, Allen grew up on gospel, R&B, and funk, music but later turned to jazz after hearing a recording by the legendary saxophonist Benny Carter. During his early years of study he studied with instructor Roy Snieder and band director Robert Siemele. His first hometown gigs were with sax greats Sonny Stitt and James Moody. 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. Allen’s 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).
With over 200 recordings to his credit, the gifted Milwaukee-born, New York-based drummer, sideman, bandleader, entrepreneur, and educator, Carl Allen’s profound and propulsive percolations provided soulful and syncopated support for over three decades.
Piccadilly Square (Alfa Records and Timeless Records) was Allen’s first CD as leader, released in 1989, followed by The Dark Side of Dewey (Alfa Records and Evidence), The Pursuer (Atlantic), Testimonial (Atlantic), and Get Ready, his 2007 Mack Avenue gospel/Motown accented debut release with co-leader, bassist Rodney Whitaker followed up by Work to Do (Mack Avenue Records) featuring Kirk Whalum.
Education: University of Wisconsin – Green Bay from September 1979 until May 1981. William Paterson College from September 1981 until May 1983. Graduated with BM in Music – Jazz Studies and Performance. Education has always been part of my mission Allen says. Art Blakey taught me the importance of nurturing the next generation of musicians. “Every generation needs someone to help them get to the next level and this what I am hoping to do”.
Some of my educational affiliations include or have included the following:
Director of the Snow College jazz Camp in Ephraim, UT. Currently serves the Artistic Consultant for Jazz Studies Director of the Summer Jazz Intensive at Trinity College in Melbourne, Australia Artistic Director of the Valley Christian School Jazz Camp in San Jose, CA
Director of the Summer Jazz Camp at The Oxbridge Academy of the Palm Beaches
In May of 2012 Allen received an honorary doctorate from Snow College in Ephraim, Utah in Humane Letters. Carl just completed a 6 year tenure serving as the Artistic Director of Jazz Studies at The Juilliard School in New York City.
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, Art Blakey and Elvin Jones. Allen has also produced recordings for pianist Eric Reed, Dewey Redman. Pharoah Sanders, Freddie Hubbard, Kris Bowers and guitarist Lage Lund, the winner of the 2005 Thelonious Monk International Monk Competition and many others totaling nearly 70 credits as a producer.
Carl Allen’s multifaceted career provides the perfect template for what a modern musician should be. As Sid Gribetz of Jazz Times wrote, “more than just another fine drummer, Carl Allen has it all together as a bandleader, businessman, and producer, becoming a force in today’s jazz world.”
Allen maintains an exhaustive schedule of recording, touring, producing and teaching. He remains active as a sideman with Christian McBride and Inside Straight, Benny Golson and others. As a leader most recently leading The Carl Allen Quartet.