ALL THAT JAZZ: Drummer Archie Alleyne performing at a 1988 concert. His autobiography will be released at a book launch at Daniels Spectrum on November 7. Photo courtesy CBC.
By Dennis Kucherawy
Last June on a sweltering afternoon during Toronto’s jazz festival, approximately 800 people crowded shoulder-to-shoulder into the Daniels Spectrum’s Ada Slaight Hall to pay tribute to Canadian jazz pioneer Archie Alleyne.
Many of Canada’s finest musicians gathered in Regent Park to performer in the beloved drummer’s honor, including pianist Joe Sealy and singer Jackie Richardson. Tessama Alleyne, Archie’s daughter, presented a dramatic; dub poet performance, accompanied by percussion. The concert went on into the night.
Now, on Saturday Nov. 7th, another event will celebrate Archie and his extraordinary career: the launch of his autobiography “Colour Me Jazz – The Archie Alleyne Story.” It will happen next door to the Daniels Spectrum at The Paintbox Bistro (555 Dundas East). Doors open at 5 p.m. and the reading begins at 6 p.m.
The reading is free, but RSVPs are a must at firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline is Nov. 4th.
A limited number of his books will be available at $25 each.
Born in Toronto in 1933 and raised here, Alleyne’s illustrious career included drumming for such great “visiting” jazz artists as Lester Young, Stan Getz, Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins and legendary singer Billie Holiday. His book, co-written over a decade with Sheldon Taylor, is a wide-ranging memoir detailing his jazz career that spanned 60 years, according to press materials.
It “covers the highs and lows of Archie’s career, his reflections on race, family life and politics, and his passionate commitment to spreading the word about jazz and blues,” the release says. “(It) serves as a collection of memorable jazz profiles and portraits that will make you laugh, cry and feel alive.”
Throughout his long career, he also performed with “literally hundreds of Canadian jazz players and singers.” He rose to critical attention as the resident drummer at Toronto’s famous Town Tavern where he performed for more than a decade beginning in 1955.
Following a car crash in 1967, he took a break from music to become a partner in Toronto’s Underground Railroad Restaurant before returning to music in the early 1980s.
In 2003, he established the Archie Alleyne Scholarship Fund (AASF) a not-for-profit organization to recognize and encourage academic excellence in jazz studies.
At the end of 2011, he received the highest civilian recognition in the country, as a Member of the Order of Canada. Archie’s musical journey came to an end this summer, when he died due to complications with prostate cancer.