RIP Gerry Niewood and Coleman Mellett

Saxophonist Gerry Niewood was among those who perished aboard Continental Flight 3407 on Thursday night. I had the good fortune to have Gerry perform my music in the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop and in a few Secret Society rehearsals he was gracious enough to sub in. Others — like Society saxophonist Sam Sadigursky, who has posted an excellent tribute on his own blog — knew him far better, but in our brief interactions he seemed a selfless, stand-up guy, in addition to being true to his rep as a consummate pro. Deepest condolences to his son Adam (also a saxophonist) and the rest of his family and loved ones.

34-year old guitarist Coleman Mellett was also aboard that flight — he and Gerry were both heading to a scheduled performance with Chuck Mangione and the Buffalo Philharmonic. Again, my sincerest condolences to those who knew him.

Other places…

Gerry Niewood on MySpace
Coleman Mellett on Myspace
Sam Sadigursky (The One Seat)

I went to college with Niewood’s son Adam and got to know Gerry a little while in school, and even took a lesson with him after finishing college. A few years later, I found myself sitting next to him when subbing in the orchestra for the Radio City Christmas Show. Over a period of three years, I played about seventy shows sitting next to him, and he was always a great source of warmth, encouragement, sound, professionalism, humor, and a real woodwind guru. He seemed to do things his own way, which isn’t something I’ve encountered much playing on Broadway. I always felt that I emerged a better player after sitting next to him, and he always had something nice to say to me after the show, which meant a great deal to me being so new there.


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