Every pioneering party needs a scout: someone who braves inclement weather, hunger and fatigue and forges ahead into the wilderness to determine whether or not it is safe for the rest of the party to follow. To do this alone, guided only by instinct and an inner voice, is a rare thing in today’s world of GPS devices. Buddy Collette, who was born and died in Los Angeles, was not only the spiritual father of Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy, James Newton, myself and others, he was also was our scout and GPS. We wanted to be explorers, but could never have traversed the territories that we did and do, had he not gone before us.
I met Master Collette on the L.A. scene when I was a student at the University of Southern California. He was a thorough and important musician in Los Angeles, a man who rose above the condition of his time. The world opened its arms to him and he flourished there. In turn, he was always looking out for young musicians and took note of who was doing what and where. Eventually he began to call me to sub for him when he had studio sessions or gigs he couldn’t make. He was always very positive and always encouraged me to pursue my dream.