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Allen Blairman

Drummer for Albert Ayler, Karl Berger, Charles Bell and more....
Free form jazz and bob drummer Allen Blairman has recorded with Albert Ayler, Karl Berger, Mal Waldron, Birell Lagrene, Allen Blairman, Eddie Taylor, Frank Runhof's Hi Voltage, and Charles Bell.   With Albert Ayler Blairman appeared on the critically acclaimed "Fondation Maeght" recordings. Blairman has also performed with jazz greats Jimmy Smith. George Benson, Roland Kirk, Archie Shepp, Dexter Gordon, Chet Baker, Lou Rawls and more.  He has performed extensively in Europe where he has lived since 1970 and has also toured South America and Japan.  

Allen Blairman was born on August 13, 1940 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Growing up in Pittsburgh he jammed in the clubs of the Hill District with Stanley Turrentine, Dodo Mamorosa, Slide Hampton, Horace Parlan, Sonny Stitt, and Jimmy Smith.  He began playing professionally in Pittsburgh with the Alden Jazz Quartet comprised of as bassist John Hurt, trombonist Nelson Harrison, saxophonist George Green, and guitarist Jerry Byrd.  Allen Blairman went on the road at age 17. 

Charles Bell Contemporary Jazz Quartet

Allen Blairman joined the Charles Bell Comtemporary Jazz Quartet after it was formed in 1958.  Founded by pianist/composer Charles Bell while he was studying music at Carnegie Tech,  The jazz ensemble made its debut appearance in a concert at the Carnegie Lecture Hall in October of 1958 performing Charles Bell's original compositions.  The members of the quartet for that initial performance were vibraphonist Chuck Leroy, bassist Dicker Hiller and drummer Cecil Brooks.   Blairman replaced Brooks later in 1958.  They went onto perform two week engagements at the Crawford Grill, other area jazz clubs, the Three Rivers Arts Festival and appeared in concert again at the Carnegie in January and October of 1959.

The Charles Bell Quarter won the Intercollegiate Jazz Festival in 1960.   The quartet was comprised of Charles Bell on piano, Bill Smith on guitar, bassist Mike Trafficante, and Blairman on drums.  Blairman was voted the most valuable musician in the competition.  The Pittsburgh Courier wrote "in spite of his youth, Blairman is considered the top drummer in the country."  As winners of the Jazz Festival the group received a recording contract with Columbia Records, an engagement at the famed Birdland club and an invitation to appear at the Newport Jazz Festival.  But the The quartet was comprised of Charles Bell on piano, Bill Smith on guitar, and bassist Mike Trafficante.  But the festival was cancelled that year due to a riot.

Blairman made his first recording with the Pittsburgh based Charles Bell Quartet.  Released on Columbia Records in 1960 the album “The Charles Bell Contemporary Jazz Quartet” was produced by John Hammond.  The recording received a rare five star rating from Downbeat Magazine.  Neushi Ertegeun signed the quartet to the Atlantic Records label. A second Charles Bell Quartet album titled “Another Dimension” with Ron Carter on bass was released on Atlantic Records in 1962. The Quartet toured Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Scotland in 1962.  

Charles Bell received a commission from the Pittsburgh Symphony in June of 1962 to write an original work for the symphony and a jazz combo.  As a member of th Charles Bells Quartet Blairman performed the "Concerto in Miniture" with the Pittsburgh Symphony at the Syria Mosque in December of 1962. They were conducted by William Steinberg. 

Move from Pittsburgh

Blairmain relocated to Washington D.C. in 1964.  Moving to New York City in 1968, where he lived until 1971, Blairman worked with Charles Mingus, Chet Baker, Slide Hampton, and Archie Shepp. 

Albert Ayler Recordings

Blairman began working with Albert Ayler in 1970. Saxophonist Ayler was one of the pioneering giants of free jazz.with a huge tone and wide vibrato.  He recorded with Ayler at his final performance at the Fondation Maeght, in St. Paul De Vence, France on July 27, 1970.  His work with Ayler was recorded on the album "Nuits de la Fondation Maeght"  (1970), 'Live on the Riviera" (1971), and "Holy Ghost with A. Ayler" (2005).  Ayler was found drowned in New York's East River in November of 1970.  His death remains a mystery.

Going European

Blairman moved to Heidelberg Germany in 1971 to work vibraphonist Karl Berger.  He toured Europe with Berger in 1972 and recorded two albums with Berger "We Are You" (1971) and "With Silence (1972).   In 1971 Blairman performed on the album "Spontaneous Albert Mangelsdorff Meets Masahiko Sato".  Blairman recorded the live Mal Waldron album "A Touch of the Blues" at the East-West Jazz Festival in Nurnberg, West Germany in May of 1972. Remaining in Europe Blairman continued to perform and record there.  He lived for times in Berlin, Zürich, and Munich. 

Recording with avant garde pianist Mal Waldron's quartet Blairman appeared on the "Hard Talk" live album released in 1974 by the Enja label.  Allmusic reviewer Scott Yanow awarded the album 4½ stars writing "This is a strong live set that successfully combines together some distinctive musical personalities"

Blairman played with the German Jazz rock group Embryo in 1976.  He collaborated in France with Bireli Lagrene. 1991 Working in a trio with Günter Lenz and Uli Lenz he recorded "Live at the Montreux Music Festival".

In 1981 Blairmain recorded with the 14 year old prodigy guitarist Biréli Lagrène on his tribute to the swing jazz of Django Reinhardt titled "Swing 81".  Blairman appears on three tracts "Limehouse Blues", "Nuages",  and "How High the Moon.

Recording with Eddie Taylor in 1994 Blairman appeared on the album "Stormy Monday".

Blairman released the CD "Life Back in the Day" in 2006, a function soul jazz organ trio with hammond organ player James Simpson and German saxophone player Olaf Schoenborn.  As a member of Frank Runhof's Hi Voltage Blairman appeared on the album "Plays the Music of Hank Mobley" released in 2007.

Currently Blairman lives in Heidelberg and appears with his trio Variety along with the Mannheim saxophonist Olaf Schönborn. He also plays in another trio with Rocky Knauer and Ulli Jünemann that release the album "Triologue" in 2012.
Allen Blairman Recordings
Bernie's Tunes - Jam with Tap Dancer
How High The Moon
Charles Bell Contemporary Jazz Quartet