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Jim Allen Biography

Jim Allen
Jim Allen

As a jazz drummer during the 50s, 60s, and early 70s Jim Allen participated in weekly jam sessions with such notables as Kenny Burrell, Jack McDuff, Johnny Griffin, Dexter Gordon, Dr. Lonnie Smith, and others at the Pythood Club in his native Rochester, NY. Mr. Allen says that during those glorious and wonderful years, he had the opportunity to establish and nurture lasting relationships with some of the greatest jazz musicians in the world. When he became deeply immersed in the art of photography it came as no surprise that he would concentrate his efforts on documenting and preserving those special moments in jazz.


Sunny Rollins
Sonny Rollins Photo by Jim Allen

Mr. Allen eschews flash because it is offensive to musicians. He favors black & white over color because it has a darker and more dramatic feel that captures jazz in its natural state. He firmly believes his innate musicality and kinship with fellow musicians give him an edge in capturing the spirit of the moment when an artist is at the apex of his /her performance. The prolific master photographer whose vibrantly aesthetic images give a tacit salute to the artistry of such visual griots as Herman Leonard and Francis Wolff has showcased his work at the Eastman House (where some of his pictures are permanently housed), The Arts & Cultural Council for Greater Rochester, Light Impressions, High Falls, Link Gallery at City Hall, and The Cleveland Fine Art Expo (where he garnered the Featured Artist of the Year award). His photographs have graced the covers of such national publications as FI: The Magazine of Music & Sound and About…Time. His work has also been featured on record jackets and Down Beat, the Democrat & Chronicle, the Frederick Douglass Voice, the Minority Reporter and beyond. In 2003 he worked in a collaborative spirit with the Health Association of Rochester to promote and design a calendar to celebrate that organization’s 15th anniversary. Upon seeing the calendar renowned jazz photographer Herman Leonard wrote Mr. Allen and shared the following sentiments: "Your calendar is excellent! Considering you only started in 1987, you’ve leap frogged into greatness in a very short time."

Some of Mr. Allen’s photos are in the private collection of such luminaries as Bruce Lundvall of BlueNote records, saxophonist David Sanborn, drummer Roy McCurdy, and photographer Herman Leonard. His long awaited book Jazz: The Spirit of the Moment has been completed. Always willing to give back to the community Mr. Allen has graciously donated pictures to fraternal, public and private organizations to promote student scholarship.

A native of Rochester, NY (1932), Mr. Allen is a retired educator who holds degrees from SUNY at Brockport and the University of Buffalo where he distinguished himself as a Rockefeller Fellow. Mr. Allen is extremely grateful and deeply humbled that Canandaigua National Bank & Trust chose to display his work for its grand opening.