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Dick Allen: New Orleans Jazz HistorianCopyright © 2007
The late Whitney Balliett once called Dick Allen, "the curator of present-day New Orleans jazz." Allen, who along with Bill Russell instituted an oral history project for Crescent City musicians in the mid-1950s, died of heart failure at a veterans hospital where he'd been living since 2003. He was 80.
A native of Georgia, Allen studied at Princeton University before joining the U.S. Navy in World War II. After the war he enrolled at the University of Georgia.
The project Allen and Russell started grew into the William Ransom Hogan Jazz Archive at Tulane University, and Allen was associate curator from 1958 to 1965 and curator from 1965 to 1980. Allen also wrote countless articles, liner notes and program notes, and served as a consultant, instructor, production advisor, producer or curator for many institutions, including the Smithsonian Institution.
Allen was also one of the founders of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, a record store owner and a trombonist who studied with Manuel Manetta, Red Allen and others.
Perhaps above all, though, Dick Allen was widely known as one of the people who gave the French Quarter its unique character, even as he chronicled those who had defined it during the early years of jazz.