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Brad Allen

About Me

“I’m so glad I didn’t grow up with a silver spoon in mouth,” says Allen, when asked about his DIY hard work ethic. “I grew up in a farming community in Nebraska, and I was working my brains out in the corn fields by the time I was in the 6th grade.” Allen’s work ethic has served him very well, first as a musician in the U.S. Army Band, and now as an independent jazz musician based out of Kansas City. “Most people probably wonder what I do all day since I don’t have a day job. But honestly, it’s sometimes very difficult to accomplish all the things I need to on a daily basis to continue to make a living as a musician.” Brad does all his own booking and promotion, which he says is practically a full time job in and of itself. In addition, he acts as singer, songwriter, band leader and drummer in his jazz trio/quartet. As if all that weren’t enough, Allen as performs many as 4-5 solo gigs a week, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. He says he started learning guitar after being inspired by all the great guitarists he was fortunate to play with over the years, including Rod Fleeman, guitarist with Karrin Allyson. “Learning to play jazz guitar is particularly challenging”, says Allen. “The sheer number of chords in some of the jazz standards alone is enough to drive you crazy.” Brad Allen spent several years as a musician in the U.S. Army Band before settling into the Kansas City music scene. “I went into the Army Band because I wanted to continue to grow as a musician. I also felt I’d have lots of opportunities to play jazz. It was a good experience for a while. Eventually though, I felt like I wanted to get out of the military and move to a city where I could really immerse myself in a scene with world class jazz players. I picked Kansas City, because it was close to home. I also felt it was a better place to raise a family than New York or Chicago,” says Allen. Allen’s songwriting and musical style influences are firmly rooted in the jazz classics. “I see so many people trying to do something new, but to me it’s all been done before. They seem to think that combining contemporary sounds and other genres with jazz is an original idea. But most of these ideas were already thoroughly explored by the jazz fusion bands of the 70’s. What I don’t see in jazz today are people trying to write really good songs on the same level as the songs that became our jazz standards,” says Allen. “I’m also trying to reach more of the general public with my music, rather than just the elite jazz crowd. I’ve always enjoyed vocal jazz, and the general public relates more to songs and vocalists than instrumental music. That’s why I picked this particular musical direction.” Brad is currently working on his 3rd CD, which he says will be a jazz vocal CD. The last 2 contained a few vocals, but also featured lots of instrumental jazz. “It’s been a long time since the last CD was released. I hope this CD will really be a reflection of my growth as a vocalist,” says Allen. Longtime fans will also notice that he shortened his stage name from Bradley Allen to Brad Allen. “My legal name is Bradley Allen Votava. I found early in my career that no one could pronounce Votava, so I shortened it to Bradley Allen, and later to just Brad Allen. It’s just easier for people to remember and spell.” The new CD will be called “Better With Age,” which is an original tune written by Allen. “It’s a very optimistic way of thinking-not that we just get older, but we get better. Hopefully that’s true. That’s what I’m trying to do anyway. I’ll have to let my fans decide that for themselves.”

My Jazz Story

I was first introduced to jazz through my high school stage band. Later my drum instructor gave me some Buddy Rich albums. He also took me to a Buddy Rich concert. That's when I really got excited about jazz, and knew that I wanted to be a jazz drummer. I spent many hours mastering control of the instrument, because as a young musician, I simply wanted to be able to play fast! Later, I became especially inspired by Max Roach, and the way he approached the drums much like a horn player would-by creating melodies on the drum-set. I'm still inspired by these players today, along with many other artists I listen to, both old and new.