Trumpeter Allen Smith was born in a mill town in Pennsylvania in 1925 and moved to California in 1943. That year he was drafted into the U.S. Navy, and had the good fortune of being selected to replace Clark Terry and perform in the renowned Navy Hellcat Band in Hawaii. Upon his return he earned a master's degree in education from SF State University, and from 1950 to 1985 served as an elementary school teacher and principal in San Francisco schools school. He performed in the Fillmore District when other areas of the city were closed to African Americans and performed, recorded, and toured with Duke Ellington, Gil Evans, Benny Goodman and others. Smith played in San Francisco jazz clubs until shortly before his death in February, 2011.