Jazzman Buddy Collette's Los Angeles
Buddy Collette, the legendary jazz musician who died in Los Angeles on Sunday at 89, both profited from and contributed to the rich midcentury jazz scene along Los Angeles' Central Avenue. Playing the saxophone before he entered his teens, Collette started his first band at 12 and later performed with the Chico Hamilton Quintet as well as for Lili St. Cyr, Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. The versatile musician founded a groundbreaking interracial symphony and was instrumental in promoting the amalgamation of then-segregated Musicians Local 47 and Local 767, the African American musicians' union.
Much has been written over the years about Collette's extensive contributions to jazz and Los Angeles' musical life. But when Los Angeles-born Collette was interviewed at his mid-Wilshire home in July 1999, he wound up talking as much about what Los Angeles had done for him. Here are some of Collette's own words about his Los Angeles.
I grew up in Watts. There was plenty of land at a reasonable price, and many people went out and bought land. People kind of helped each other build their homes, and my father built our house with a bunch of friends.
-- Barbara Isenberg
Photo: Buddy Collette, left, and Putter Smith, on bass, perform at an event in Los Angeles. Credit: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times