Tenor saxophonist Hadley Caliman died Wednesday in Seattle. He was 78 and had liver cancer. Until a few weeks before his death, Caliman thrived in the Pacific Northwest, starring in the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra and leading his own group. Here, we see him soloing with the SRJO.
I wrote in Jazz Matters about Caliman in a 1979 performance with Freddie Hubbard’s band:
As the evening progressed, Caliman’s playing took on much of the intensity and coloration of John Coltrane’s work, but he is a more directly rhythmic player than Coltrane was toward the end of his life and from that standpoint is reminiscent of his mentor Dexter Gordon. He made his first records in Los Angeles in 1949 when he was 17 and a student of Gordon. Whatever his influences, Caliman is an inventive and cheerful soloist.
After college, he went on to record extensively and work with musicians as varied as Gerald Wilson, Don Ellis, Hubbard, Santana and The Grateful Dead. Caliman retired in the mid-2000s as a music educator at Seattle’s Cornish College of the Arts but not as a tenor saxophonist. In his final years he still sounded cheerful and at least as inventive as during his heyday (he made his first records in Los Angeles in 1949 when he was seventeen and a student of Gordon).
For an obituary of Caliman in a newspaper near the small town where he lived for several years, go here.
This video, unfortunately truncated, captures Caliman last July at Jazz Alley in Seattle with Thomas Marriott, trumpet; Bill Anschell, piano; Phil Sparks, bass; Matt Jorgensen, drums; and vocalist Gail Pettis. Jim Wilke does the introduction. The evening was a celebration of Caliman’s 65th year as a professional musician.
Matt Jorgensen says
Thanks for posting this Doug. Your readers might also be interested in the obituary on Seattle Jazz Scene where many people have shared their memories of Hadley.
It is terrible tragedy that Hadley Caliman has passed away. You can help remember him by contributing to his memorial website at http://hadleycaliman.people2remember.com/
John Bishop says
Hadley remained active until the last few weeks, performing regularly around the Northwest. He continued to practice daily until a week ago when he was too weak to continue. His last public performances were in Seattle in late August and the release performance for “Reunion” with Pete Christlieb was at The New Orleans Cafe in Seattle on August 8.
The last 3 years of Hadley’s long career were a particular joy for him, with the release of three albums, new performing opportunities, and new revelations he was discovering through his practice and focus on music. He continually expressed surprise and deep gratitude for the beautiful response he was getting from people in radio and the media, and was particularly touched by the many musicians who gave of themselves to keep him active and involved, including Joe Locke, Pete Christlieb, Matt Jorgensen, Phil Sparks, and most significantly, Thomas Marriott.
A memorial is being planned.
Linda Caliman says
Please be advised that there will be a celebration of Hadley’s life at the following location:
Seattle First Baptist Church
1111 Harvard Avenue
Saturday, September 18th, at 11:00 a.m.
Dear Jan and family and friends: please accept my deepest condolences, gratitude and prayers for Mr.Calimans passing. I am so very sorry! He will truly be missed! my great and first experience was experiencing his music with Santana at the Craterfest inside Diamondhead at Honolulu the first day of 1972: a great time with a great album! I tried to humbly thank him for this when i last saw him in Ballard for jazz a few years ago. Naturally his music brought great joy to so many over so long over the world. Perhaps you remember phoning me? He helped jazz and the art of music so infinitely much and he was so cool. thank you for letting me submit this. God Bless!!! sincerely, David “Dawika”
Brian Dev says
Saw Hadley Caliman play in San Francisco at Jazz At Pearls back in 2008. The greatest musical moment of my life. The performance actually completely changed my life. I’m devastated, hearing that he passed away. It was one of my life’s goals to hear him play again.
Rest in peace, Hadley, you were amazing.
pepper williams says
Hadley gave me sax lessons back in the mid 70’s in the Bay Area, and I remembered him as a warm and loving individual. I was around 17 and very ‘rough around the edges’, but he would be patient and help me understand the craft. I later transcribed his solo to “Kickin’ on the Inside”. He was a great player!