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This vocalist began his career as David Allen, then became David Allyn — so at least the vowel swapping was done in an alphabetical progression. If the move was made out of frustration with the number of professionals named David Allen, including a number of rock drummers, record producers, jazz horn players, a film special-effects genius, and one of the world's greatest stick carvers, then Allyn, or whatever his name was, burned slowly; he had performed since the late '30s, but didn't change his name until the '70s. His most famous affiliations were with the wonderful trombonist Jack Teagarden, and the forward-thinking band of Boyd Raeburn (an influence on progressive jazz bandleader and composer Charles Mingus, among others). As far as Allen's influences, these began with his family. His mother was a singer, his father played French horn, but it was Bing Crosby who the boy copied when he began singing professionally in high school.
He began working with Teagarden in 1940, a gig that was interrupted by military service. Allen won a Purple Heart in the first World War, and joined the orchestra of Van Alexander upon his discharge. His next gig was with the superb outfit of Henry Jerome, a largely forgotten band whose membership included the fine tenor saxophonist Al Cohn, and Johnny Mandel writing arrangements. After being featured as a vocalist on several radio stations, Allen was picked up as a frontman with the Raeburn band, again with Mandel scribbling out arrangements. The singer relocated to the West Coast where he began recording an excellent series of releases with the Discovery label. Producer Dick Bock worked on these sessions, and also helped convince Allen to begin recording again in the '70s. In between, Allen put music aside and began working with drug addicts in a treatment program. Bock's new series in the '70s also featured the Allyn spelling as well as some new collaborators including pianist Barry Harris. Allen/Allyn is indeed one of those vocalists that jazz instrumentalists tend to admire, based on aspects of his phrasing as well as his superb intonation and often clever timing.