Going to a Classic Jazz Band set is much like attending a symposium on the history of jazz. You are apt to hear anything from Jelly Roll Morton to Count Basie and all the stops in between. The band uses the five-horn front line typical of such bands as those of Matty Matlock, Billy Maxted, and Red Nichols, as well as The World’s Greatest Jazz Band.
Early in the band’s career Bill was able to acquire a major portion of Matty Matlock’s Paducah Patrol library, thanks to Matty’s son, Buddy. All of Matty’s charts were essentially written for 10 musicians, but some were more easily adaptable to the Classic band’s eight. Bill Allred’s Classic Jazz Band has performed and recorded some of the arrangements with all 10 parts by adding a baritone saxophone and a guitar. In 2007, the 100th anniversary of Matty Matlock’s birth, the band performed tribute concerts with a full 10-member ensemble.
Over the years, the Classic Jazz Band has added an eclectic collection of written and improvised jazz to its library. After learning of the band’s desire to tour with a classic library, noted pianist and arranger Billy Maxted contributed quite a few of his great charts. Other contributors include Bob Haggart, legendary writer and performer Joe DeWeese, Dave Wolpe, Scott Whitfield, John Bambridge, Terry Waddell, Dave MacKenzie and Dan Barrett, as well as the band's own John Allred and Bob Pickwood.
Bill Allred’s Classic Jazz Band has appeared at jazz festivals and/or presented concerts in Sacramento, Palm Springs and Mammoth Lakes, California; Davenport, Iowa; Madison, La Crosse, Milwaukee and Fond du Lac, Wisconsin; Elkhart and Indianapolis, Indiana; Sun Valley, Idaho; Seaside, Oregon; the Jazz Café at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.; Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore; and at festivals and a wide variety of venues throughout Florida and elsewhere in the U.S. Overseas trips have taken them to Hong Kong, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, England, Scotland, Italy and South America. In Rome, they performed a benefit for the World Food Program at the Jazz Club Alpheus. They have also been the featured band on several Jazzdagen cruises and on the Mississippi Queen riverboat.
An active recording program has yielded 14 albums. All of them were originally recorded on or have been re-released on CD. Although a few of the titles have sold out, those that are no longer in stock can be custom produced so all of the recordings can still be purchased. They are: ALLRED HOT AND BLUE, STAND BACK, LIVE AND KICKIN', HONG KONG BLUES, RED HOT SESSIONS, SWING RIOT, MEET ME WHERE THEY PLAY THE BLUES, VERSATILITY, LEAN, MEAN SWING MACHINE, THE CLASSIC SWING COLLECTION, 2 THE MAX, THINGS AIN'T WHAT THEY USED TO BE, THIRTEEN and the latest one THE NEW YORK SESSIONS.