Instructor, Saxophone and Piano
Jazz Studies Area Coordinator
PAC 56; (360) 650-3133
- Master Of Arts in Jazz Performance, New York University, 1996
- Bachelor Of Music in Jazz Studies and Performance, McGill University, 1987
The Jazz Journal International describes Mike Allen as “an accomplished musician who has studied Coltrane in depth and forged a style that is fresh and vital.” Doug Fischer, jazz critic with the Ottawa Citizen newspaper, hailed his seventh album as a leader, Love One Another as the “#1 Canadian Jazz Album of 2005”, and Mike as “Canada’s top tenor man”.
Mike Allen began his musical career in Montreal, Canada upon graduating from McGill University in 1987: double major in Jazz Studies and Classical Saxophone Performance; Faculty Scholar with High Distinction.
Mike Allen is profiled in Mark Miller’s “Miller Companion To Jazz In Canada", in large part due to his tenure with Canadian jazz guitar legend Sonny Greenwich’s band in the early 1990s. Thanks to generous arts grant funding from the Canadian and Quebec governments, Mike was afforded the opportunity to live and study in New York City in 1992/93 where he obtained a Master’s degree in Jazz from New York University, studying saxophone with Joe Lovano and piano with Jim McNeely. While in NYC, Mike forged a musical partnership with pianist Don Friedman that led to future performances and recordings in New York, Montreal and Vancouver. It was that association with Don Friedman that led Mike to make contact with bassist Chuck Israels (Don and Chuck has recorded together for Riverside in the early 1960s) when he relocated to Vancouver in 1995. Mr. Israels was the head of Western Washington University’s jazz studies program and Mike was hired on as an affiliate instructor at WWU in 1996. Mike became the program’s new interim coordinator when Mr. Israels retired in 2010.
Mike Allen’s groups are regularly featured on national jazz radio programming and have toured extensively throughout Canada and the Pacific Northwest. The MAQ has hosted the Vancouver International Jazz Festival’s official 10-night jam session since 2003, and has such been fortunate to be joined by many great players including Wynton Marsalis and members of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Chucho Valdes, Kenny Werner, Chris Potter, Robin Eubanks, and John Taylor, among others. Mike has performed in Seattle with bassist/vocalist-Jim Ferguson at the Seattle Art Museum; The Chuck Israels Quintet at Dimitrio’s Jazz Alley; and John Fedchock’s All-Star West Coast Big Band at Tula’s Jazz Club, as well as with his own groups at various venues.
Locally, the WWU Faculty Jazz Collective (Mike Allen-tenor sax, Miles Black-piano, Adam Thomas-bass/voice, and Julian MacDonough-drums) performs a weekly Wednesday night show at the Blue Horse Gallery in Bellingham (301 West Holly) that is open to all ages and free admission to the public.
Mike’s saxophone playing and compositional approach are highly influenced by the late Joe Henderson, with whom he studied privately in 1996-97.