If you haven¹t already heard, Hadley Caliman, 78, the great tenor saxophonist, colleague and friend of Dexter Gordon, died [Wednesday, September 8,] of liver cancer. He was one of the great jazz musicians, and a kind, gentle person, whom I deeply loved and respected. We were close friends since 1970, when I appeared on his first LP and he used two of my tunes. We reconnected over the years and toured together last year in the Pacific Northwest, the highlight being appearances at the Earshot Jazz Festival in his home area of Seattle and at the Bing Crosby Theater in Spokane. The great trombonist Curtis Fuller, and top Bay Area-based musicians Jeff Chambers and Eddie Marshall, also a longtime friend of Hadley¹s, were with us. Hadley¹s career had enjoyed well-deserved success in the last few years when the Seattle-based recording company Origin released three recordings for him, Gratitude, Reunion and Straight Ahead, the latter hit #2 on the national JazzWeek radio charts. It had been three decade since his last recording.
Last May, the Napa Valley Jazz Society was scheduled to feature him in a Dexter Gordon tribute that I helped organize, when he fell at the last minute and was unable to make the trip to Napa. Dexter Gordon¹s widow, Maxine Gordon, a jazz history scholar who is writing a book on Dexter, was interviewing Hadley about Dexter¹s early days. She had come to the Napa Valley tribute concert to be with Hadley and his most supportive and caring wife Linda Caliman, who accompanied him on many of his tours, particularly in the last two years of his illness.
A deeply fluent post-bop player, Caliman toured/recorded with such international jazz stars as Dexter Gordon, Freddie Hubbard, Gerald Wilson, Elvin Jones, Mongo Santamaria, Joe Pass, Joe Henderson, and Bobby Hutcherson. But his influence extended beyond jazz confines, both from his 1970s work with the likes of Carlos Santana, and his years teaching at Seattle’s Cornish College of the Arts.
My wife Sanna Craig and I already miss him and send our deepest sympathy to his wife Linda and his family and all the others whose lives he touched.
– Larry Vuckovich