On May 19, 1990, Buddy Collette assembled a twenty-piece big band for a one-night special performance at El Camino College in Torrance, California. Although it has taken over fifteen years to grace the airwaves for all to enjoy, it is well worth the wait. Though the master tapes were lost, producer David Keller fortunately kept a backup tape, from which this recording was made. Tenor and bandleader Buddy Collette no longer plays as a result of a 1998 stroke, and trumpeter John Swan also suffered the same fate. Of the remaining members of the original band, Red Callender (tuba), Bobby Bryant (trumpet), Allen Jackson (bass) and Thurman Green (trombone) are no longer with us, making Live at El Camino College
an important document.
Collette was fond of Duke Ellington's music, and he pays tribute in this concert with "Sophisticated Lady, "In A Sentimental Mood, " C-Jam Blues and "Satin Doll. The band also plays the Ellington/Strayhorn standard "Take The "A Train, featuring vocalist Cheryl Conley. Another well-known standard on the program, Herbie Hancock's "Theme From Harlem Nights, showcases the leader on a riveting tenor solo, along with a beautiful touch of the keys by pianist Lanny Hartley.
The night really belonged to Collette, however, who provides seven original charts and performed solo duties on tenor ("Andre and "Crystal ), flute ("Blues In Torrance ) and clarinet ("Night at El Camino ). Collette's orchestra included many of the top LA jazz musicians of the time. There are notable solo performances by altoist Fred Jackson, trumpeter Bobby Bryant, guitarist Al Viola, bassist Allen Jackson and pianist Lenny Hartley.
Another fine example of the saying that jazz is indeed timeless, the music performed that evening still sounds as fresh and exciting today. Live at El Camino College is one special event that will never be repeated. Thanks to persistence and luck, we can enjoy this performance forever. Collette remains active in education and continues to influence a new generation of musicians.
Personnel: Buddy Collette: leader, tenor, clarinet and flute; John Stephens, Louis Taylor, Steve Carr, Fred Jackson, Ray Reed: reeds; Bobby Bryant, Ron King, Nolan Smith, John Swan, Ray Brown: trumpets and flugelhorn; Thurman Green, Garnet Brown, George Bohanon, Maurice Spears: trombone; Red Callender: tuba; Al Viola: guitar; Lanny Hartley: piano; Allen Jackson: bass; Harold Mason: drums; Cheryl Conley: vocals.