David Allyn: Radio Interview

One of the finest pure-jazz male vocalists in the LP era was David Allyn. He easily was among the hippest uptempo singers and one of the most heartbreaking balladeers. It’s hard not to snap your fingers when David launches into swingers on albums or tear up when he works a vulnerable torch song. David started with trombonist Jack Teagarden in 1941, the same year Frank Sinatra was with trombonist Tommy Dorsey, and the two sound remarkably alike in the late ’40s. [Photo above of David Allyn by Olivia Myers at Dizzy’s Coca-Cola in New York in 2010]

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As great as David was, he should have been bigger and better known. Drugs, prison and the same old story created an unfortunate gap in his career, but he didn’t let those things stop him. David had a hard time in the service during World War II, and his post-war problem was battle stress and depression. He also was extremely sensitive and passionately in love with beauty. Yet great arrangers such as Johnny Mandel, Bob Florence and Bill Holman were sympathetic and stuck with him, fully understanding the genius of his vocal talents (you can read my multipart JazzWax interview with David starting here).

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Allow me to offer up three tracks so you have a baseline sense of what I’m talking about. Here’s David singing Long Ago and Far Away, with an orchestra arranged by Johnny Mandel in 1957…

Long Ago and Far Away

Here’s David singing Shake Down the Stars with an orchestra arranged by Bill Holman in 1958…

Shake Down the Stars

And here’s David singing Love Is a Serious Thing backed by a band arranged by Bob Florence in 1964…

Love Is a Serious Thing

Now that you get the picture, here’s a radio interview with David conducted some years ago by Les Block at KSAV in Minneapolis…

David Allyn died in November 2012.

JazzWax note: KASV’s interviews for its Johnny Mercer special can be found here.