Friday, September 10, 2010

R.I.P.: Hadley Caliman

Cornish College of the Arts retired faculty member and noted jazz saxophonist Hadley Caliman (born on January 12, 1932 in Oklahoma) passed away on September 8 in Seattle, after succumbing to liver cancer. He was 78 years old. Caliman joined the Cornish jazz faculty in 1984 and taught continuously at Cornish for almost twenty years. But he spent most of his life in Los Angeles.

Famous for his searing tenor saxophone sound that earned him a favored place as the sideman of choice for numerous jazz, rock, and R&B artists in the 1960s and 70s, Caliman recently reignited his recording career after retiring from teaching at Cornish in 2003.

The first Hadley's "sounds" I've heard, back in 1973, were the ones from his exquisite tenor sax intro on "Eternal Caravan Reincarnation," the opening track from Santana's landmark "Caravanserai" album. After that, I noticed him in many albums such as Flora Purim's "Stories To Tell," the self-titled debut album by Santana's percussionist José "Chepito" Areas, Patrice Rushen's "Prelusion," Johnny Hammond's "Gears" (now an acid-jazz classic) and Freddie Hubbard's "Skagly."

Hadley Caliman's memorial service, "Celebration of Life," will be held at Seattle First Baptist Church on Saturday, September 18 at 11:00am.

Seattle First Baptist Church
1111 Harvard Avenue (at Seneca)
Seattle, WA 98122

A reception at Tula's Jazz Club will follow at 2:00pm
Tula's Jazz Club
2214 2nd Avenue
Seattle, WA 98121
Lois Gilbert's Jazz Corner:
Hadley Caliman - R.I.P.

Very sad to report that Hadley Caliman passed away this morning after a long
battle with liver cancer.

Hadley remained active until the last few weeks, performing regularly around
the Northwest. He continued to practice daily until a week ago when he was
too weak to continue. His last public performances were in Seattle in late
August and the release performance for "Reunion" with Pete Christlieb was at
The New Orleans Cafe in Seattle on August 8.

The last 3 years of Hadley's long career were a particular joy for him, with
the release of three albums, new performing opportunities, and new
revelations he was discovering through his practice and focus on music. He
continually expressed surprise and deep gratitude for the beautiful response
he was getting from people in radio and the media, and was particularly
touched by the many musicians who gave of themselves to keep him active and
involved, including Joe Locke, Pete Christlieb, Matt Jorgensen, Phil Sparks,
and most significantly, Thomas Marriott.

A memorial is being planned.
From Hadley's own official website:

Tenor saxophonist Hadley Caliman is part of the living history of jazz music in America.

He has performed, recorded and toured with musicians such as Freddie Hubbard, Gerald Wilson, Carlos Santana, Dexter Gordon, Elvin Jones, Mongo Santamaria, Joe Pass, The Grateful Dead, Joe Henderson, Don Ellis, Flora Purim, Phoebe Snow, Bobby Hutcherson and many others.

His influence on the sound of modern jazz music can be heard on many of his albums as a leader, including his newest release on Origin Records: Gratitude, featuring drummer Joe LeBarbera, vibraphone master Joe Locke and trumpeter Thomas Marriott.

At 77 years old and now making his home in Seattle, Hadley Caliman is an active and vibrant part of the busy Seattle music scene, and continues to tour, teach and perform throughout the world.

Just in case you’re encountering Hadley Caliman for the first time, here’s a little background. His long career in jazz began at Jefferson High in Los Angeles where his classates included Art Farmer, followed by gigs on Central Avenue in the 50s where he was known as “Little Dex” (for Dexter Gordon with whom he studied). In the 60s he played with Mongo Santamaria, Gerald Wilson’s Big Band, Willie Bobo and Don Ellis. In San Francisco in the 70s, he played and recorded with Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, Nancy Wilson, Hampton Hawes, Jon Hendricks and Bobby Hutcherson and led four albums of his own. One of his high profile dates of the period was touring and recording with Santana at a time when rock bands were trying to expand their musical horizons by employing jazz musicians.

The pervasive influence of John Coltrane is noticeable in Hadley Caliman’s playing, but it’s tempered by the earlier West Coast bop experience and rounded into his own sound by the years of playing in a myriad of gigs of all description. West Coast tenorists like Dexter Gordon, Harold Land, Joe Henderson, Ernie Watts, and Hadley Caliman generally have a more rounded sound than their East Coast counterparts.

It’s also true that one learns from teaching. Hadley was on the music faculty at the Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle for over 20 years and his influence can be heard in dozens of young saxophonists and others who studied with him. Since retiring from Cornish, he is again concentrating on his career as a performer. He regularly leads his own quartet/quintet and is a featured soloist with the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra.

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