Collette, Buddy [William Marcel]
- E. Ron Horton
(b Los Angeles, CA, Aug 6, 1921; d Los Angeles, Sept 19, 2010). American jazz saxophonist, flutist, clarinetist, and composer. He was a jazz mainstay in Los Angeles for more than 60 years. He began working professionally in his early teens, when he collaborated with Britt Woodman and his family band. Around this time Collette met Charles Mingus and persuaded him to switch instruments, from cello to bass, to form a band that could perform popular music of the day. In 1942 he joined the US Navy, and after his release in 1946 he used the GI bill to fund a more serious study of music, refining his technique on flute and clarinet. He formed the Stars of Swing with Mingus, Woodman, Spaulding Givens, Lucky Thompson, and other local musicians. Although this group never recorded it was one of the cornerstones of his Collette’s career.
Collette is well known for his pioneering work toward integrating the music scene and creating more opportunities for minority musicians in Los Angeles during the late 1940s and early 1950s. He was one of the founding members of the Community SO, a collaboration between white and black musicians in Los Angeles that offered black performers the chance to perform orchestral repertoire at its highest levels, to work alongside white performers, and to be heard and appreciated widely. His time with the orchestra enabled Collette to become, as a member of the Groucho Marx show, the first African American musician to be hired for the NBC studio orchestra in Hollywood. Collette went on to work with such jazz musicians as Chico Hamilton, Eric Dolphy, and Duke Ellington, and collaborated as a composer on Mingus’ now-infamous Town Hall concert in ...