I knew Coleman Mellett for many years, having played with him early in my music career in New York. We used to see each other frequently in the early 90s, but then lost touch for quite a while. I was pleasantly surprised to be on the same recording date with PJ Parker many years later. All the things I loved about Coleman's playing came flooding back that day; his beautiful harmony and touch on the guitar, the sensitivity in his sound and accompaniment. More importantly, I was reminded of what a kind and gentle man he was. I am terribly saddened by this tragedy and my thoughts go out to his family and friends. I will miss him very much.
Tim Horner, drums:
There come moments in our lives where one needs to step back from a distance and reflect on life for many reasons, but today I find it to be life itself. In this moment of reflection, many of us today are reflecting on and celebrating the lives of Gerry Niewood and Coleman Mellett, two musicians and friends who through the years touched many of our lives with their music, their great musicianship, as well as their wonderful friendship.
I had the pleasure of meeting Coleman and playing with him last year for the first time while we were involved in a recording session for PJ Parker's latest CD project at Bennett Studios. I was so impressed by his playing and professionalism. For me it was one of those moments in your life where you walk away from the situation and you say to yourself "Wow, that guy was just amazing, I hope there is more playing in the near future with him." I also had the great pleasure of showing up to Shanghai Jazz last year to play a gig and Coleman was there with a large group of friends ready to give a surprise birthday party in celebration of his wonderful partner and wife, Jeanie Bryson. Playing for them that night was such a ball, to witness their love and friendship; that's what we truly live for, moments like those.
Gerry I knew for many years, having shared the bandstand with him on many occasions with various big bands mostly. The first time I played with him, in the mid 80s, I was new in New York and getting my feet wet professionally. Gerry came off as being my best friend, my brother or the guy next door who you've talked to about your house or yard time after time, he made me feel so accepted that night and it all seemed so simple, it was all about the music and friendly conversation. For me, he was a role model for all of us in so many ways.
Well, as I write these words today I realize that because of the tragedy that took these two lives from our world way too soon, there will be no more shared bandstands or record dates with our friends Gerry Niewood and Coleman Mellett, but there will be fond memories of these two wonderful people and I plan on enjoying those memories in my heart and soul for as long as I can. To Jeanie Bryson, Adam Niewood and all of the family members of these two wonderful people, please know that you are also in my heart and soul today and the hearts and souls of all those players and listeners who make up our jazz community.
Gerry and Coleman, you will be missed. May we all continue to play our music and live our lives in the spirit of you both. I'm so glad I knew you. Thank you Gerry and Coleman, thank you for you. Peace ……………
Vinnie Ruggieri, piano:
I recently met Coleman at PJ's recording session. His warmth and sincerity came through immediately in his handshake and conversation. It was even more evident in his playing. He will be missed by all of us.
Ghandarva Earl Sauls, bass:
I recorded with Coleman with PJ last year and he was a beautiful guitarist and a gentleman.
PJ Parker, vocals
I had the joy and the privilege to get to know, and to record with Coleman Mellett, whose playing was warm and gentle, passionate and exacting, and whose smile lit up a room, as well as the souls within. He was a treasure as an accompanist, instinctively knowing a song, new or old, and imbuing it with an extra essence all his own, that enhanced the song and the singer without overshadowing either. I have been delighted and inspired by this sweet man, and I feel overwhelmingly cheated by fate that this magical experience cannot ever be again. His loss is deep and devastating, but his legacy remains as rich and big as his heart. My prayers are with his beloved Jeanie.
We also remember Coleman's friend and bandmate, Gerry Niewood, and the 48 others who lost their lives on February 12, 2009. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and friends.