Winnipeg's Jazz Magazine


you won’t forget me

Archie Alleyne (1933-2015)

Written by:

Drummer Archibald Alexander Alleyne, a much-loved and highly respected veteran of Canada’s jazz community, passed away on June 8 at age 82, following a lengthy battle with prostate cancer.

ArchiegrewupintheKensingtonMarketareaofTorontoatatimewhenitwaslargelypopulatedbyEasternEuropeanJewishimmigrantsandAfricanCanadians.Aprimarilyself-taughtmusician,hiselegantyetdrivingswingandmelodicismledtocomparisonswithfirst-generationbebopdrummerslikeKennyClarkeandMaxRoach.

Duringthe1950s,whensegregationandracialdiscriminationstillimpactedmanymusicvenues,hewasamongthefirstblackmusicianstobreakthoughthe“colourline.”HesoonbecameafixtureatTorontoclubsliketheColonialandtheTownTavern,frequentlybackingvisitingstarssuchasLesterYoung,BillieHoliday,BenWebster,Harry“Sweets”Edison,StanGetz,Eddie“Lockjaw”Davis,andTeddyWilson.

Alleynetemporarilyretiredfromplayingin1968followingamajorautomobileaccident,butmadeacomebackintheearly1980s,amongotherthingsco-leadingaquartetwithvibraphonistFrankWrightandtouringextensivelywithpianistOliverJones.Later,in2000,heandthelatesaxophonistDougieRichardsonformedthehardbopcomboKollage,whichhadanumberofincarnationsandservedasanurturinggroundforyoungermusicians.

Atirelesssocialactivist,AlleynespearheadedsuccessfuleffortstopushtheCanadaCouncilfortheArtstomakerecordinggrantsavailabletojazzmusicians,andtheTorontoJazzFestivaltofeaturemoreblackartists.Later,heestablishedtheArchieAlleyneScholarshipFundtoassistpromisingyoungperformers.In2012hewasnamedanOfficeroftheOrderofCanada.

A memoir, Colour Me Jazz: The Archie Alleyne Story, co-written with Sheldon Taylor, was due to be launched this month, but has now been delayed. When it is released, more people will learn about this inspiring artist and community leader.


Copyright © 2015 dig! magazine.