The Music Of William “Buddy” Collette (Bridge Records)

Buddy Collette Big Band in Concert

Released March 28, 2000

Grammy Nominee for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album 2001





A fluent multi-instrumentalist, and the composer of everything from TV jingles to chamber music to jam-session staples, Buddy Collette has tended to be a victim of his own versatility. But The Buddy Collette Big Band in Concert, which captures a 1996 performance in Washington, D.C., is probably his best calling card to date. For one thing, it demonstrates that the 75-year-old leader remains in fine form on the tenor sax, clarinet, and (especially) flute–check out his nuanced reading of “Blues in Torrance,” and the way his ebullient solo keeps bumping up against the tune’s descending harmonies. What’s more, the disk showcases Collette’s compositional gifts. He’s concocted some rousing vehicles for his 19-piece band, and the bright, brassy arrangements on “Andre” and “Blues Number Four” suggest late-period Basie, alternating catchy riffing with piquant solo voices. Among the latter, Garnett Brown delivers some attractively gutbucket trombone, while saxophonist Louis Taylor comes out swinging on “Magali.” There’s also a guest appearance by the leader’s old comrade-in-arms Chico Hamilton, who drives the ensemble through a heated version of “Buddy Boo.” But despite his aversion to hogging the spotlight, this is clearly Collette’s show–and it’s about time, isn’t it?

James Marcus

Track Listing:

1. Magali (Buddy Collette) 7:13

2. Andr (Buddy Collette) 7:06

3. Mr. And Mrs. Goodbye (Buddy Collette) 3:10

4. Blues Number Four (Buddy Collette) 4:28

5. Jazz by the Bay (Buddy Collette) 11:58

6. Blues in Torrance (Buddy Collette) 8:01

7. Point Fermin from “Friendships Suite” (Buddy Collette) 7:01

8. Buddy Boo (Buddy Collette) 7:01


Buddy Collette Big Band
Woodwinds: Steven Carr; Jackie Kelson; Ann E. Patterson
John D. Stephens; Louis Taylor, Jr.; Ernie Fields, Jr.
Trombones: Les Benedict; George R. Bohanon; Garnett Brown, Jr.
Maurice R. Spears; Britt B. Woodman
Trumpets: Albert N. Aarons; Ronald Barrows; Anne King; Nolan Shaheed
Piano: Gerald Wiggins, Sr.
Cello: Fred Katz
Guitar: Alfred F. Viola
Bass: Richard H. Simon
Drums: Leon Ndugu Chancler; Chico Hamilton

Recorded June 6, 1996, at at the Lincoln Theatre, Washington D.C.


Multi-instrumentalist Collette came to front a 20-piece group for this in-concert date at the Lincoln Theatre in Washington, D.C., as part of a Library Of Congress Jazzfest. For this hour program, Collette presents his original compositions, many modern charts adapted to larger accompaniment. Besides the world-class flute, sax, and clarinet of the leader, you get exceptional solo and ensemble work from clarinetist/saxophonist Jack Kelson; supplemental saxophonists Ann Patterson, John Stephens, and Louie Taylor; trombonists George Bohanon, Garnett Brown, Maurice Spears, and Britt Woodman; trumpeters Al Aarons and Ron Barrows; pianist Gerald Wiggins; guitarist Al Viola; and other notables. The band starts with the bright flute-driven bopper “Magali” with a drum break from Ndugu Leon Chanceler and a handsome sub melody from the other horns, then all join together on this memorable line. Call and response splendor is extant during “Andre,” the bridge having an Afro-Cuban rhythm and a good swing section for Collette’s tenor sax. Kelson’s clarinet lead intro and free improv with Viola’s guitar prompts the band into insistent swing on “Mr. & Mrs. Goodbye” from an easier wrought, older-type tradition. Brown’s piquant trombone takes the initial foray for “Blues #4,” the group supporting his extended wailing. Special guests Chico Hamilton and Ernie Fields, Jr. make cameo appearances on the finale “Buddy Boo,” as the drummer’s signature roiling samba-tango swing leads to a happy swing that elevates the alto sax solo of Fields to a high level as Viola’s tiny plucked notes tiptoe around the orchestral monster. This is a wonderful recording that gives further proof to the notion that Buddy Collette continues to be one of the greatest jazz musicians of them all, and also an unsung hero of big-band legerdemain. The band being absolutely loaded can’t hurt. Highly recommended.

Michael G. Nastos (AllMusic)