Archie Alleyne was simply put, the Canadian equivalent to Art Blakey. His drumming style wasn’t one of flash, but of taste, preciseness and support for the band and its soloists. To know Archie Alleyne is to know a piece of black Canadian jazz history that began with the likes of Oscar Peterson and artists such as Alfred and Donovan Coward from Nova Scotia, Daisy Sweeney, Oliver Jones, Sonny Greenwich, Frank Wright and Wray Downes to name a few.
His crowning moments, done at the turn of the 21st century, was two things: co-found a jazz group named Kollage which at the time was one the few, if not the only, all-black hard bop jazz bands in Canada. The other was founding a scholarship fund under his name to encourage and support artists of colour who would be struggling to get a chance to be educated in the top schools of the country in music.
What I thank God for Archie is the legacy that he left behind through educating people young and old about the rich history and past of jazz and one who selflessly gives back to those who are in need. Through his band, there were no complicated charts, odd-time signatures, experimental exercises or jazz with elements of contemporary populism. Archie was all about the true essence of jazz, which is found in swing, groove, rhythm, feel, and whole greasy bucket of soul, something that the up and coming generation of musicians should take a cue and learn from in order to preserve the integrity of jazz.
Archie, wherever you are, thanks for everything.
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