Al Young title

A. Razor: BUDDY COLLETTE GETS HIS REST | In Memoriam Buddy Collette (August 6, 1921 – September 19, 2010)


The Death of Jazz Great Buddy Collette | Los Angeles Times, September 21,  2010

Jazz Icon Buddy Collette: Playing It Again

Listen to Buddy Collete talk about cultural diversity in L.A. and how it influenced his playing | NPR Jazz Profiles

Official Buddy Collette Website

Mingus: Collette’s L.A. friend from childhood | Courtesy images

Buddy Collette Gets His Rest

shining shoes on 95th and Compton

Mingus had the bigger shine box

swinging jazz for cents to barely make a dollar

that splits into trio into quartet into sextet

into all night jazz jam sessions

like when bird got out of Camarillo

Buddy is there with Dexter, Morgan, Red, Gay and Co.

Bird is healthy so he shuts it down

after everyone gets a turn at 5 a.m.

there is a school in session

every night

all night

Buddy moves from

session to session

from sax to flute

to clarinet

and back to sax

from record to record

back to session

ahead to leader

from club to club

steady man

steady man

friends become legends

become ghosts

become memories

as he finally makes his exit at 89

to go be the bandleader

with all the saints as they go marching in

marching into cool west coast jazz

swing so low as they go

as they go man go

these cats no longer know

all those lyrics that they blow and blow

go now, buddy, go

still playing on my radio

don’t you ever go


but here

right now

with that sound

that cat left us?

with that sound

it might get quiet

but it never has

to be silent




go on

A. Razor
© 2010 by A. Razor


A saxophonist, clarinetist, and bandleader, he was a leading light in the West Coast jazz scene for many years. Born William Marcel Collette to a jazz family, he was raised in Watts where he became a skilled woodwind player from an early age. Leading his first ensemble (which included Charlie Mingus and Britt Woodman) at 12, he was well known locally by his mid-teens. During World War II he served as a US Navy bandleader, then returned home to join the Kings of Swing, again partnering with Mingus and Woodman, and to begin a long career as a premiere sideman. Over the years, he was to collaborate with Frank Sinatra, Nat “King” Cole, Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, and numerous others; in the late 1940s and early 1950s Collette was the only black in the orchestra for the “Groucho Marx Show”, then went on to lead a successful fight to merge the black and white locals of the musicians union. In 1955 he was a founding member of drummer Chicho Hamilton’s quintet that was to produce a number of well-received recordings. Continuing his performing career until sidelined by a 1998 stroke, Collette also served as a professor at Loyola Marymount University, Cal State Long Beach, Cal Poly Pomona, and other institutions. In 1998 he was named “A Living Los Angeles Cultural Treasure”, and in 2000 received a Grammy Award nomination for “The Buddy Collette Big Band in Concert”. A participant in the UCLA oral history project “Central Avenue Sounds”, he co-founded “JazzAmerica”, an educational opportunity effort directed at high school students, and in 2000 published his autobiography “Jazz Generations: A Life in American Music and Society”. At his death from an acute respiratory problem much of his large recorded legacy remained in print.

Bob Hufford



JAZZ GENERATIONS: A Life in American Music and Society | Buddy Collete with Steven Louis Isoardi


Leave a Reply