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Buddy Collette

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An important force in the Los Angeles jazz community, Buddy Collette was an early pioneer at playing jazz on the flute. Collette started on piano as a child and then gradually learned all of the woodwinds. He played with Les Hite in 1942; led a dance band while in the Navy during World War II; and then freelanced in the L.A. area with such bands as the Stars of Swing (1946), Edgar Hayes, Louis Jordan, Benny Carter, and Gerald Wilson (1949-1950). An early teacher of Charles Mingus, Collette became the first black musician to get a permanent spot in a West Coast studio band (1951-1955). He gained his greatest recognition as an important member of the Chico Hamilton Quintet (1955-1956), and he recorded several albums as a leader in the mid- to late '50s for Contemporary. Otherwise, he mostly stuck to the L.A. area, freelancing, working in the studios, playing in clubs, teaching, and inspiring younger musicians. Although a fine tenor player and a good clarinetist, Collette's most distinctive voice is on flute; he recorded an album with one of his former students, the great James Newton (1989). In addition, Collette participated in a reunion of the Chico Hamilton Quintet, and recorded a two-disc "talking record" for the Issues label in 1994, in which he discussed some of what he had seen and experienced through the years. ~ Scott Yanow

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Birth Name:

William Marcell Collette


06 August 1921 in Los Angeles, CA

Years Active:

'50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s