The jazz community came out in droves to pay tribute and offer support to one of its own Saturday afternoon at Marla's Memory Lane. In a scheduled four-hour program headlined by tenor saxophonist Teddy Edwards' Brass and String Ensemble and organist Jimmy Smith, countless jazz artists donated their time and music to help raise money for artist-percussionist William (Buck) Clarke, whose recent bout with diabetes cost him his leg.
Clarke, 54, appearing otherwise fit as he maneuvered his wheelchair through the throng of supporters who packed the Los Angeles nightclub, joked easily with friends and well-wishers. His spirit seemingly undaunted, Clarke, whose African inspired paintings and wood sculptures were on display, said, "I never knew I had so many friends."
With little musical preparation musicians took to the stage for what resulted in a series of jam sessions. An impromptu house trio comprising pianist Art Hillery, bassist Richard Reid and drummer Ralph Penland provided support to the solo efforts of saxophonist John Bolivar, trombonist George Bohannon and guitarist Terry Evans, among others. Clarke joined the group, applying his conga skills in a most musical fashion. He later joined steel drummer Robert Grenidge to recall the music of the Caribbean.
An early highlight came with the unscheduled appearance of trumpeters Donald Byrd and Oscar Brashear, whose bebop chops were put to the test on "Straight, No Chaser" and "Caravan."