Buddy Collette, a master of reeds and woodwinds who played a major part in integrating Los Angeles studios and the musicians union, is gone. He died on Sunday at the age of 89. Like his contemporary Angelenos Charles Mingus and Dexter Gordon, Collette was an important part of the southern California jazz community long before the invention of the term West Coast Jazz. He played important roles in bands led by Benny Carter, Gerald Wilson, Chico Hamilton and Conte Candoli, among many others. He assembled a Charles Mingus big band that made a memorable impact at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1964 and in succeeding years did the same for Dizzy Gillespie and Gil Evans. From Don Heckman’s obituary of Collette in today’s Los Angeles Times:
Collette’s virtuosic skills on saxophones, flute and clarinet allowed him to move easily from studio work in films, television and recording to small jazz groups and big bands. He was, in addition, one of the activists instrumental in the 1953 merging of the then all-African American musicians union Local 767 and the all-white Local 47.
To read the complete obituary, go here.
Here is Collette playing unaccompanied alto saxophone.
Shelly Palmer says
I am so glad I got to spend a few hours with you earlier this summer. Those moments passed like gold dust through a sieve.
I am honored that you passed away on my birthday, September 19, 2010, exactly two years to the date as my beloved father, Earl Palmer.
Like my father, you will be in my heart, always.
God bless you Buddy.