Buddy Collette

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Buddy Collette
Birth name William Marcel Collette
Born (1921-08-06)August 6, 1921
Origin Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Died September 19, 2010(2010-09-19) (aged 89)
Genres Cool jazz
West Coast jazz
West Coast blues
Instruments Tenor saxophone, Alto saxophone flute, clarinet
Associated acts Dexter Gordon, Chico Hamilton

William Marcel "Buddy" Collette (August 6, 1921 – September 19, 2010) was an American tenor saxophonist, flautist, and clarinetist. He was highly influential in the West coast jazz and West Coast blues mediums, also collaborating with saxophonist Dexter Gordon, drummer Chico Hamilton, and his lifelong friend, bassist Charles Mingus.


Collette took up the alto saxophone at age 12 and led his first group, which included Britt Woodman on trombone and Charles Mingus on bass.[1] At 17 he started playing professionally. After serving as a U.S. Navy band leader, he played with the Stars of Swing[2] (featuring Woodman, Mingus and Lucky Thompson). Along with saxophonist Dexter Gordon, bassist Charles Mingus and drummer Chico Hamilton, he helped keep bebop alive in Los Angeles' historic Central Avenue neighborhood. In the early 1950s he worked as a studio musician and performed on Groucho Marx's television program, You Bet Your Life.

In 1955, he became a founding member of Chico Hamilton's quintet.[3] The unusually instrumented quintet also featured guitarist Jim Hall and cellist (and pianist) Fred Katz, and performed chamber jazz. A year later, Collette recorded Man of Many Parts, his first album as a bandleader.

Unlike other influential West Coast players Collette stayed in Los Angeles, recorded with his quintet, and became a noteworthy educator. His students included such renowned musicians as Eric Dolphy, Charles Lloyd, Frank Morgan, Sonny Criss, and James Newton.

In 1996, the Library of Congress commissioned Collette to write and perform a special big band concert to highlight his long career. Although a stroke in 1998 had rendered him unable to continue performing, Collette remained active in jazz education, responsible for founding numerous programs for children in the Los Angeles area. Together with Steven Isoardi he wrote an autobiography titled Jazz Generations: A Life in American Music and Society (Bayou 2000).

Collette was a pioneer civil rights activist, working to desegregate the musicians' union of Los Angeles. Gerald Wilson, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, and saxophonist Benny Carter were some of his early supporters. He also helped organize a concert and rally protesting government repression of the African American singer, actor, and political activist Paul Robeson.

He died in Los Angeles on September 19, 2010.


As sideman[edit]

With Chet Baker

With Brass Fever

With Gil Fuller

With Eddie Harris

With Charles Mingus

With Blue Mitchell

With Lyle Murphy

With Gábor Szabó and Bob Thiele

With The Three Sounds

  • Soul Symphony (Blue Note, 1969)
  • Persistent Percussion (1960, Kent Records, KST 500)


  1. ^ Myers, Marc (2010-05-18). "Interview: Buddy Collette". All About Jazz. Retrieved 2010-09-21. 
  2. ^ Yanow, Scott. "Buddy Collette: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-09-21. 
  3. ^ Yanow, Scott. "Chico Hamilton: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-09-21. 

External links[edit]