Buddy Tate

Buddy Tate (1913-2001) was one of the earliest “tough Texas tenors,” developing a thick tone influenced by Coleman Hawkins and Herschel Evans.

Early in his career, Tate played in the Midwest with Terrence Holder, Count Basie (1934), Andy Kirk, and Nat Towles. He came to fame in 1939 when he replaced Herschel Evans with Count Basie’s orchestra, staying for ten years and holding his own opposite fellow tenors Lester Young, Don Byas, Illinois Jacquet, Lucky Thompson, and Paul Gonsalves. With the breakup of the Basie band, Tate worked with Hot Lips Page, Lucky Millinder, and Jimmy Rushing before he landed a perfect job leading the dance band at Harlem’s Celebrity Club. He held that position for 21 years (1953-1974).

Along the way, Tate appeared on occasional record dates including two albums released under trumpeter Buck Clayton’s name and three of his own sessions for Swingville during 1959-1961 that have been reissued on a pair of CDs. Groovin’ with Tate has all of the music from the album of the same name plus the Tate’s Date set. The first half of the reissue features the tenor’s Celebrity Club Orchestra using tight arrangements and bluesy material. The second part is ballad-oriented with Tate on tenor and clarinet caressing various melodies as the only horn in a quintet. Buddy and Claude also consists of two former albums. A set originally led by pianist Claude Hopkins features Tate and trumpeter Emmett Berry in a quintet while the other album (originally called Tate-a-Tate) has the tenor with trumpeter Clark Terry in an exciting modern swing quintet.

Buddy Tate had a higher profile in the jazz world after his run at the Celebrity Club ended, and he sounded distinctive to the end of his career.