“Allen, in this triumphant follow-up release to his acclaimed debut disc, Circle House, for all of his fluency in the language of jazz and deep knowledge of the music’s modern masters, is very much his own man with his own creative voice.”- WNPR.org
Born and raised in Connecticut, saxophonist Kris began musical studies at an early age, but his desire to seriously pursue a life in jazz music was catalyzed through his apprenticeship with legendary alto saxophonist Jackie McLean, first at Hartford’s Artists Collective and later at the Hartt School of Music in McLean’s African American Music Degree Program.
He has performed throughout the US and worldwide and forged a clear identity as a composer, arranger, and bandleader to match his powerful saxophonic voice. His latest release, Beloved, is his second album for the Truth Revolution Recording Collective. In the company of his working band Allen calls upon the musical language of McLean, Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane and others.
Allen’s working quartet, with tenor saxophonist Frank Kozyra, bassist Luques Curtis and drummer Jonathan Barber, has been praised by Jazziz Magazine as “today’s saxophone dream band.” Kris has enjoyed a long career as a sought-after sideman, working in the groups of Illinois Jacquet, Gerald Wilson, Andy Gonzales, Jimmy Greene, Helen Sung, Winard Harper, the Mingus Dynasty, Avery Sharpe, Andy Jaffe, Gary Smulyan, Kendrick Oliver’s New Life Orchestra, the Curtis Brothers and Mario Pavone among others. Kris is a founding member of the collaborative Jazz Samaritan Alliance, and the Hartford Legacy Big Band.
As a composer, Kris has been honored with numerous awards and commissions and has collaborated with dancers, poets, and visual artists, as well as musicians from across diverse genres.
A dedicated educator, he is the Lyell B. Clay Artist Artist-In-Residence in Jazz at Williams College, having previously held positions at the Hartt School, Trinity College, Southern Connecticut State University and the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts. He has been a Teaching Artist for Litchfield Jazz Camp since 2001, and conducted clinics and master classes at institutions nation and worldwide.
This is Kris’ first appearance as a leader at Litchfield Jazz Festival. His bandmates are Matt Dwonszyk on bass and Robin Baytas on drums. All three are faculty colleagues at Litchfield Camp where Robyn was a student throughout his teens.
Kris is a Vandoren Artist and plays Vandoren mouthpieces, reeds and ligatures.