Ed. note: On the night of March 3, 2012, Lou Colombo died in an auto accident on his way home from performing at the Roadhouse Cafe FL. The following is a message from lifelong friend and pianist Joe Delaney:
“Today marks one of the saddest days of my life. The untimely devastating loss of trumpeter, athlete, family man, entertainer and a man of great brilliance, compassion, humor and wit. Loved by all whom he touched. A great friend, brother, father figure, teacher, inspiration and role model of which I will forever aspire towards. And his many natural talents were a gift from God, however he understood the necessity of working on maintaining them on a daily basis through strength both physically, in is highly demanding work, and equally strength of character.
“As a reward for his tireless effort he was blessed by his loving adoring and supportive wife Noel and six wonderful children and many grandchildren. And artistically he passed at the top of his game as he was always improving from day one as it was his never ending quest. When it was time to be serious, he played not only with his natural attributes and abilities but more importantly directly from his heart. When a situation allowed for or even demanded his famous gift for clowning around and putting an entire audience at ease and in good spirit not only was he up for the challenge but one of the absolute best in the business. Very outgoing and fearless in public, however in order to create that a well balanced and required humble, forever inquisitive, ambitious and truly brilliant person with a great deal of sensitivity must also co-exist. He had it all and was touched by God.
“His love of family and his love of home life never stunted his growth as a true artist, from the perspective of the countless fellow artists who worshiped him my self included, but only served to enhance it. Lou always said he could get his best rest and was at peace when there was a half a dozen or more children running around, as opposed to a life on the road as a musician or athlete, that again supports his necessities to remain at the top his game, simply by virtue of having the ability and support to sustain everything that was important to him. And he was as famous for all these positive and admirable qualities by both the artist and non artist. That is a major achievement for any human being “to love and be loved in return”.
“Lou will be missed and never forgotten by those he has given years of pleasure to or just a fleeting hello. And his memory will be defined not only as gifted artist, but as a good and decent human being and family man. I know he’ll be rewarded in the after life to the same degree of effort he put into his Earthly life. And when the shock and despair begins to lift for his family, there will always remain the highest degree of pride for one of The Greatest Champions Of All Time!!!”
Lou Colombo was born and raised in Brockton, MA. He began playing the trumpet at age 12. Following two years in the service, he played professional baseball for about 7 years. A badly broken ankle forced him to retire from the Brooklyn Dodgers at age 24—bad for baseball, good for music! He then devoted his energy to music, playing trumpet full-time and periodic travels with big bands led by Benny Goodman, Buddy Morrow and Perez Prado.
Lou played jazz festivals throughout the US, Canada and Europe and appeared on jazz cruises with the Artie Shaw Orchestra (under the direction of Dick Johnson) on Norwegian Cruise Lines. He currently travels with the Shaw organization when his schedule permits.
Lou spends his winters in Florida with his daughters Sherri and Lynda. While in the Sunshine State, he performs on both coasts. You can catch a live performance by Lou and the players at The Roadhouse Cafe in Ft. Myers this coming January. Check our Facebook page for dates and times, and while you’re there, please “like” our page..
One of Lou’s best-known CDs on the Concord label is I Remember Bobby from 1990, which also features pianist Dave McKenna, bassist Phil Flanigan and guitarist Gray Sergeant. The CD is a tribute to a close friend and fellow Cape Codder, the great jazz cornetist Bobby Hackett. Other CDs feature Lou with the late Cape Cod reedman Dick Johnson and the Artie Shaw Orchestra.
Here is Dizzy Gillespie’s comment on Lou Colombo, from a radio interview with Eric Jackson on WGBH in1988:
“Lou Colombo is what I would call a trumpet painter, he resolves. He starts playing and the notes keep going, but the chord keeps changing all the time. He’s a marvelous trumpet player. I went one night to hear him play. Boy, he asked me to play with him and I said ‘No—you got it, brother!’ I’m not going to jump into that hot water…Lou’s pretty weird the way he plays because he plays with just one hand. He plays the valves with his right hand but doesn’t hold the horn with his left hand. This guy’s amazing. I’ve been preaching his name ever since that night I first heard him down on Cape Cod. Lou’s a beautiful player. One of the characteristics of his playing is his tone, his sound, it’s gorgeous.”