RIP Gerry Niewood & Coleman Mellett

On Thursday, February 12th, Colgan flight 3407 crashed into a house in a residential neighborhood of Clarence Center, a small town outside of Buffalo, NY. The flight was going from Newark to Buffalo. One man in the house was killed along with all 49 passengers on the plane.  When I hear of planes crashing, I am deeply affected. I have always felt that that was I would die. I have had numerous dreams and premonitions about dying in a plane crash. And every time I fly, I say to myself, it’s been a good life, today is as good a day to die as any other. After all, it’s not the quantity of days on the planet that counts, but the quality of life, how the life is lived. I like to think that mine has been a good life overall, and for whatever reason, my time to die hasn’t come yet. So, when flight 3407 went down, I had the usual feeling that I was lucky not to be on that flight. I had no idea that someone that I knew and had once played music was on that flight.

I met Gerry Niewood when I first came down to New York from Boston. I was a young jazzer, trying to make a name for myself in the New York jazz scene. I don’t remember the circumstances that lead up to my meeting Gerry, but I asked him to do a gig with my band at Seventh Avenue South, Michael and Randy Brecker’s Club.  Gerry was a really nice sax player and I was so thrilled to have him play in my band. And what a nice guy. He was about 8 years older than me and he’d had a whole lot more playing experience than I had. He was great to play with and great to hang with. His disposition was so pleasant. I got a great vibe from him.

When I found out that he was on the plane, along with Coleman Mellet, it was as if someone had side-kicked me in the solar plexus. I couldn’t breath. It’s a musician’s worst nightmare. They were both on their way to a gig in Buffalo, to play with Chuck Mangione and the Buffalo Philharmonic. Musicians, if they want to work, often have to travel, and that usually means flying. Most of all, I feel terrible for the families and friends of both men. It’s so sad to have them taken away in such a shocking way.

I just had to put this in writing. I needed to get it out of my system. If you would like to send condolences, I think the best place at this time is to go to the facebook tribute page .
I haven’t heard about memorial services yet, but I believe they will be posted there.

Sending Peace ☮ Love ♥ Light ☼ and condolences to family, friends, and fans of Gerry Niewood and Coleman Mellet.

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