BUFFALO, NY — It’s a close-knit community — those who knew Charles Reedy, a jazz musician who played at the Colored Musicians Club for 75 years.
“I would say you probably have 5%, maybe 10%, who would know about it,” said George Scott, curator of the Colored Musicians Club. “You know? But if you ask the music world, you’re probably talking about 99 percent.”
“He was always throwing a lick to get what Charlie Parker would have played. And so, that’s why we always call him Charlie,” Scott continued.
He played with some of the greats, but came from humble roots, learning sax from neighbors like Spider Martin, who became more like brothers.
“They should go to Pennsylvania and everywhere to play music because they love it and never worry about getting paid, they didn’t want the money paid,” said Martin, the friend of Reedy. “They just wanted to play.”
A love that helped him overcome the Korean War and the racism that plagued the country.
“They get pulled over by the Niagara Falls cop,” Scott said. “So, you know, he asks him, ‘where are you guys from, you know, and he said, well, I want you to get your instruments, I want you to play something for me.’ They play, you know, a few bars of a song. And then after that, he said, okay, well, I’ll let you go this time. But you know, I don’t ever want you to come around here again. .
Reedy built a resilience that he passed on to the next generation.
“It didn’t matter if you were…just out of your league.” He was always ready to sit down and talk,” local music historian Jack Nossavage said.
Ensure the sustainability of this institution.
“There aren’t too many places for our kids of color to look up to and be proud of,” Scott said. “You know, and I think that’s why they were so insistent on helping us out so that we at least had something we could present to our kids and their kids and the kids on”
An embodiment of never giving up on what you love, that you will miss.
“A lot of those stories will live on and the guys who were in the bands,” Nossavage said. “They lose a bit of that sparkle that, you know, that little glint in Charlie’s eye.”