"Meet Me on Frenchman Street"
At 26 trumpeter Shamarr Allen has amassed a storehouse of experience and is on the cusp of being the latest New Orleans-produced trumpet flash. A proud product of the Katrina-devastated Lower Ninth Ward (his house was washed completely off its moorings when the nearby federal levee broke that terrible week in ’05) Allen was trained in NOLA’s traditional mentoring network fashion by such estimable teachers as Edward "Kidd" Jordan, the late Alvin Batiste, Clyde Kerr Jr. and the like.
Shamarr is also steeped in the NOLA brass band tradition having been prepped by the late and much-revered Tuba Fats and having performed in the Rebirth Brass Band, Hot 8 Brass Band, and Treme Brass Band among others. For this debut recording he chose mainly to honor his elders — people like drummer Bob French (hear his Marsalis Music Honors disc from ’07), in whose Tuxedo Jazz Band Allen has performed for the last year. French makes a cameo appearance on "Meet Me on Frenchmen Street" as do the great drummer Herlin Riley, traditional clarinet master Dr. Michael White, vocalist Arlee Leonard, and fellow trumpeters Irvin Mayfield (lookout for my @ Home feature on Mayfield in a forthcoming issue of JazzTimes) and Kermit Ruffins. The latter, possibly New Orleans hardest working musician, joins the leader on the title track for some singin’ and swingin’ in that curious tradition of the singing trumpet player that starts with Pops and seems quite de riguer for Crescent City kings of the 3-valves. Shamarr also puts a slick Latin twist on "St. James Infirmary."
But Shamarr Allen has a lot more on his mind than traditional New Orleans jazz updates; clues are tagged onto "Meet Me on Frenchmen Street" as two closing "hidden" bonus tracks. Be on the lookout for a more complete rundown in my forthcoming "Players" feature piece on Shamarr Allen in an upcoming edition of Down Beat magazine. After that piece we’ll give you the unexpurgated Q&A version of our Shamarr Allen interview. You can check him out further and order your copy of "Meet Me on Frenchmen Street" at www.shamarrallen.com.