Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Buddy Collette Dies at 89

Very sad news to hear about of course, the passing of Buddy Collette.  One of the true greats, both as a person and in the music world.

I had the opportunity to take part in a workshop he put on at UCLA.  There were just a few of us in the room with a piano - and Buddy of course. I didn't know much about him or his work at the time.  He was so friendly and encouraging.  Really made me feel special - as I'm sure he did with everyone.

The conversations we had still echo with me today - always will.

I was very moved by his auto-biography ("Jazz Generations - A Life In American Music and Society" by Buddy Collette with Steven Isoardi, published in 2000) which I read a just few years ago.  I knew his music by then but had no idea of the other details of his life.  In particular, how instrumental he was in brokering the merging of what were then two musician unions in Los Angeles:  black local 767 and white local 47.  Learning about how he managed to balance his musical and family life where fascinating; growing up in L.A., stories about Mingus, Dolphy, Parker and others.  It's a wonderful book - I must re-read it again!

I wrote and dedicated a song to him in 2007.  It's a simple tune and chords that reminded me somewhat of the tunes he shared with me ("Addison Street" being one of his that I love) in his songbook. I didn't know what to name it so it's simply "Buddy Collette" - people ask me about the tune and it always leads into conversations about Buddy.

No life is ever an easy road - but Buddy Collette seemed to find the light where there might otherwise have been darkness.
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