As the first non-white to perform on national television, Buddy held the door wide so that other musicians of color could work in the studios and on national television. He continues to show the way as an educator, co-founding and mentoring for the tuition-free JazzAmerica program.
In the mid-1980s, bassist Red Callender, a long-time firend and sideman of Buddy's, took on this fledgling bassist as a student. Before long, Red would retire, but he sent me in as his "sub" on many occasions. Since then, we have enjoyed a warm association.
It's been an honor to serve as a Co-Producer of Buddy's new CD, reviewed below.
The Buddy Collette Big Band - Live at El Camino College|
Buddy Collette's eponymous CD as big band leader was nominated for a Grammy for a 1996 release on Bridge Records. That live concert, commissioned by the Library of Congress and performed in Washington, DC, included longtime Collette compadres Chico Hamilton, Jackie Kelso, Gerald Wiggins and Britt Woodman.
Now, Collette returns to the spotlight with a stunning recording of a concert performance from 1990: The Buddy Collette Big Band - Live at El Camino College" on UFO Bass Records (#006). This disc is an instant collector's item, as it includes appearances by some of the top Los Angeles-based jazz artists of the era. Four of the stellar soloists -- Red Callender Ituba), Bobby Bryant (trumpet), Allen Jackson (bass), and Thurman Green (trombone) -- have since passed away. In addition, trumpeter John Swan and Mr. Collette himself have since suffered debilitating strokes.
The program is roughly divided between Collette's melodic originals and some Duke Ellington chestnuts. Also included is a lush Herbie Hancock ballad, performed exquisitely by Collette on tenor sax, one of the themes from the movie, "Harlem Nights."
Long respected as a woodwind specialist, civil rights pioneeer (as the first black musician to perform on national television) and educator (a co-founder of the tuition-free JazzAmerica program for LA-area youth), Buddy Collette hereby reminds the public that he's both a formidable Composer and Big Band Leader as well. This hard-swinging session is well worth picking up.