My friend Allen Smith, the great trumpeter who passed away this week, will be remembered as a Bay Area treasure and a true gentleman of jazz.
Raised in Pittsburgh, Allen succeeded Clark Terry in the World War II Navy Band before touring with Johnny Otis and becoming one of San Francisco's most beloved musicians.
Allen recorded with Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington and Gil Evans, and performed with Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat "King" Cole, Quincy Jones, Joe Williams, Frank Sinatra, Gerald Wilson, Tony Bennett and others.
In recent years, Allen shared the stage with the Bay Area's leading vocalists. A swinging and soulful soloist in the style of Harry "Sweets" Edison, Allen appeared with Kim Nalley, Lavay Smith, Jackie Ryan, Paula West and many more.
I'm personally grateful for having the opportunity to know, perform with, listen to and learn from this brilliant musician.
On behalf of his many friends and in recognition of his lifetime of excellence in jazz, it was my privilege in 2004 to present Allen Smith with the San Francisco Jazz Festival's coveted Beacon Award.
Through his music and the memories of all who loved him, Allen Smith lives on.