The Fall of 1990 Brings More New Faces to Highland Jazz.

jazz logo  First and foremost was a concert featuring the nationally known guitarist John Abercrombie. He and Alex Elin had played together during their student days at Berklee. John agreed to return to Boston for a reunion concert with Elin and another friend, bassist Al Reed. Completing the quartet was drummer Bob Gullotti.  We recorded the concert and later issued a cassette called Just Friends.

John Abercrombie

John Abercrombie
photo by Jonnie Miles

Abercrombie had a distinctive style which varied from bop to free-jazz. He was a frequent winner of the Downbeat critics’ and readers’ polls and was known around the globe both as leader of his own group and as a much sought after sideman. He had toured extensively with Chico Hamilton, Billy Cobham, Gato Barbieri, Gil Evans and Jack DeJohnette.

Since I couldn’t afford to pay for a hotel room for John, I offered to put him up at my home. He spent most of his time visiting other musicians in town; I can’t say I got to know him at all. My memory is that he was reserved and quiet. He was very amused by the Jazz IQ quiz we used the night of the concert. Marshall Wood had suggested the questions; they all related to guitarists. Here’s a copy. It was one of Marshall’s most challenging quizzes, to say the least.


Jazz IQ Quiz

In October we presented Donna Byrne as the head of her own quartet. She was joined by her regular trio of Gray Sargent on guitar, Jim Gwin on drums and her husband Marshall Wood on bass. By this time Donna had quite a following and the room was packed.

Lou Colombo

Lou Colombo
photo by Ed O’Neill

Another new face came in November. Lou Colombo was a long-time resident of Cape Cod and had his own band. Dizzy Gillespie often described him as “my favorite natural trumpet player.” Lou had played extensively with Dick Johnson and Dave McKenna. He enjoyed playing Dixieland tunes as well as other jazz standards. With him that night was Jon Wheatley on guitar, Frank Shea on drums and Marshall Wood on bass.

Jphn Wheatley

Jon Wheatley                                          photograph by Ruth Williams

Lou appeared in many subsequent Highland Jazz concerts. He was a delightful man to work with- full of humor but also very humble.

Where are they now?

To learn more about John Abercrombie’s current activities, visit his web site.  For a video I found a full-length recording of a concert featuring his quartet from 2011.

Lou Colombo passed away on March 3 in 2012 in Fort Myers, FL, as the result of a car accident. He was 84. A memorial concert was held for Lou at the Cape Cod Melody Tent in Hyannis on Father’s Day that year.  A New Orleans style procession led the way down Hyannis Main Street to the Melody tent. The Barnstable Patriot published this article about Lou after his death. This video of Lou shows him playing while holding the trumpet only in his right hand.

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