Saturday, February 14, 2009

R.I.P.: Coleman Mellett

Coleman Mellett
(died February 12, 2009, in Buffalo)
A current member of Chuck Mangione's group, Mellett, 33 years old, was married to talented singer Jeanie Bryson and they lived in a ranch in East Brunswick, New Jersey.

From his MySpace profile:
Guitarist Coleman Mellett grew up in the Washington D.C. area and was first exposed to Jazz while studying with Maryland guitar guru, Paul Wingo. Under Wingo's legendary tutelage, Mellett began listening to the great Jazz guitarists and was active in Blues Alley Youth Orchestra. Upon receiving the "Emily Remler" Jazz guitar scholarship to Duquesne University, Mellett headed to Pittsburgh where he spent a year learning from the great guitarist Joe Negri.

To be closer to the New York Jazz scene, Mellett transfered to the jazz program at William Paterson University where he had the privilege to study with Jazz greats like Rufus Reid, Kenny Burrell, Norman Simmons, Steve Turre, and Harold Mabern. After graduating from William Paterson, Mellett headed to Manhattan School of Music to pursue a Master's degree in Jazz Performance , which he received in 1998.

While living in New York, Mellett had the good fortune of working with musicians like Joe Williams, James Spaulding, Frank Wess, Doug Lawrence, Etta Jones, Christian McBride, and others. At this time, Mellett became a touring member of the quartet backing up the wonderful vocalist Jeanie Bryson.

Mellett was also part of a trio with organist Adam Scone and drum legend Ben Dixon, who is known internationally for the Blue Note recordings he made with "Big" John Patton and Grant Green. While performing with this trio in 1999 on a Manhattan Cable T.V. program, Mellett caught the eye of Chuck Mangione who was looking for a guitar player at the time. Mellett was invited to audition for Mangione, and was hired on the spot to be the substitute for Grant Giessman, who had been playing with Chuck since the mid 1970's. After two years of "subbing" for Giessman, Chuck invited Mellett to be a permanent member of the group, and since then Coleman has been touring the world with Chuck Mangione band.

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