Swedish trumpeter Jan Allan began his professional career in the early '50s, and his artistic muse basically followed the central highway of popular music in the ensuing decades, stopping off wherever a trumpet was welcome. A given Allan performance might be in the style of Herb Alpert, or bossa nova, or brassy jazz-rock damp with Blood, Sweat & Tears, or a progressive Stan Kenton experiment. From the age of 14, Allan was seriously enamored with jazz, the interest inspiring him to switch from piano, which he had started at the age of six, to the trumpet. Gigs around the town of Motala in 1951 preceded his move to Stockholm, where he worked in various dance bands for several years, then emerged as more of a jazz player in a small combo led by bassist George Riedel.
The Modern Swedes were the next quintet formed by Allan and Riedel, not the name of a softcore porno epic. Allan was featured on both trumpet and piano in this group. From 1955-1957, he collaborated with Carl-Henrik Norin. After a brief gap, he emerged in a quartet co-led with Rolf Billberg, active through 1963. Allan then launched an orchestral period that lasted much of the decade, visiting various stylistic ports like a cruise ship. The international hits of the previously mentioned Alpert as well as Sergio Mendes prompted "matcher" action on the part of Allan; the presence of horn sections in a certain popular style of rock music was also a welcome thing for Swedish players eager to pay for the winter's heating bill, and set lists changed accordingly.
The 1970 70, his first album entirely under his own direction, won enough awards in his native land to indicate that he was taken seriously, not just regarded as a pop-music puppy dog. He freelanced throughout the '70s, picking up regular work from the national radio. He was also a familiar face on-stage when a visiting American star assembled a group from locals. In this capacity, he performed with trumpeter Thad Jones, trombonist Bob Brookmeyer, pianist John Lewis, tenor saxophonist Warne Marsh, and others. He is featured on recordings by Lee Konitz and George Russell as well, all evidence that his lifelong love of jazz has allowed him plenty of opportunity to do more than just mingle with some of the genre's leading artists. Allan in the early '80s became part of the Riedel Trio, continuing what has come to be an enduring playing relationship. This group's interesting music has been heard mostly on the European jazz scene.