Canadian Jazz Legend Archie Alleyne Dies At Age 82
With heavy hearts, we are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Canadian jazz pioneer Archie Alleyne, whose battle with prostate cancer ended yesterday, Monday, June 8th, 2015 at 7:53 am.
The legendary self-taught drummer, who broke colour barriers in Toronto clubs in the 1940s, was 82. During his 60 plus year music career, he became the "drummer-of-choice" for visiting jazz stars including Billie Holiday, Ben Webster, Lester Young and literally hundreds of Canadian jazz musicians and singers.
Born Archibald Alexander Alleyne on January 7, 1933 in Toronto, Ontario, Archie gained critical attention as the resident drummer at the famous Town Tavern for more than a decade from 1955 to 1966.
He appeared in just about every club in the Toronto area: House of Hambourg, Cellar, 1st Floor, Colonial Tavern, Top of the Senator, Montreal Bistro, George’s Spaghetti House and Bourbon Street. He also traveled all over the world with various artists, appearing in Birdland, New York, The Blue Note in Chicago, Baker’s Keyboard Lounge in Detroit, festivals in Europe, and tours in Egypt, Nigeria, Scotland, Ireland, Spain, Italy and Brazil.
After an automobile accident in 1967, Archie put his music career on hold and ventured into the world of business. He partnered with entrepreneur Howard Matthews, and former Toronto Argonauts stars Dave Mann and John Henry Jackson, to establish the popular Underground Railroad Soul Food Restaurant in Toronto.
Throughout the mid-1980s he became an outspoken activist who vehemently protested the Canada Council exclusion of jazz artists from funding, and successfully led a high profile lobby to ensure Black musicians were represented in the Toronto Jazz Festival. In addition to his immense contributions, Archie co-founded Kollage, the contemporary hard bop sextet with the late Doug Richardson in 1999. In 2001, he created the Evolution of Jazz Ensemble (EOJ) to provide mentorship and performance opportunities for young, primarily African-Canadian students graduating from post-secondary music programs.
By 2003, he established the Archie Alleyne Scholarship Fund (AASF) a not-for-profit organization to recognize and encourage academic excellence in jazz studies. At the end of 2011, he received the highest civilian recognition in the country, as a Member of the Order of Canada. He was also awarded the 2015 Harry Jerome Lifetime Achievement Award.
Archie is survived by three daughters (Tyyra, Trinaa and Tessama) two sons (Aaron and Ronnie) four step-children, eight grandchildren (Jonah, Adrielle, Kayla, Robyn, Hyghly, Jenday, Nia, Kairi) a daughter-in-law, son-in-law, and partner of many years, Elvira Fernandes.
THANK YOU FOR MAKING ARCHIE ALLEYNE'S CELEBRATION OF LIFE A PHENOMENAL SUCCESS:
The Alleyne family and the AASF would like to thank the numerous supporters and friends in our final farewell to Canadian jazz legend Archie Alleyne. Because of your attendance and unwavering support, you are helping exceptional young people to progress their musical talent, and retain the heritage and history of jazz music in Toronto. We thank you for being a part of this very special event, and for continuing Archie's legacy to give talent a chance! #withoutthepastthereisnofuture