Buddy Tate

George Holmes "Buddy" Tate (February 22, 1913 – February 10, 2001) was a jazz saxophonist and clarinetist.

Buddy Tate
Jazz saxophonist Buddy Tate with pianist Bubba Kolb at the Village Jazz Lounge in Walt Disney World
Background information
Birth nameGeorge Holmes Tate
Born(1913-02-22)February 22, 1913
Sherman, Texas, U.S.
DiedFebruary 10, 2001(2001-02-10) (aged 87)
Chandler, Arizona
GenresSwing, big band
InstrumentsSaxophone, clarinet


Tate was born in Sherman, Texas, and began performing on alto saxophone. According to the website All About Jazz, Tate was playing in public as early as 1925 in a band called McCloud's Night Owls."[1] Tate's 2001 New York Times obituary stated that "he began his career in the late 1920s, playing around the Southwest with bands led by Terrence Holder, Andy Kirk and Nat Towles."[2]

Tate quickly switched to tenor saxophone making a name for himself in bands such as the one led by Andy Kirk. He joined Count Basie in 1939 and stayed with him until 1948. He had been selected by Basie after the sudden death of Herschel Evans, which Tate stated he had predicted in a dream.

After his period with Basie ended, he worked with several other bands before he found success on his own, starting in 1953 in Harlem. His group worked at the "Celebrity Club" from 1953 to 1974.[3] In the late 1970s, he co-led a band with Paul Quinichette and worked with Benny Goodman.

In 1980, he was seriously injured by scalding water in a hotel shower, which kept him inactive for four months.[4] He later suffered from a serious illness. The 1990s saw him slow down, but he remained active playing with Lionel Hampton among others.

In 1992, Tate took part in the documentary, Texas Tenor: The Illinois Jacquet Story. In 1996, he recorded with woodwind artist James Carter on the younger man's second release for Atlantic Records, Conversin' with the Elders, along with trumpeters Harry "Sweets" Edison and Lester Bowie, and saxophonists Hamiet Bluiett and Larry Smith.

Tate lived in New York until 2001 when he moved to Arizona to be cared for by his daughter. He died in Chandler, Arizona, at the age of 87.


As leader

As sideman

With Ray Bryant

With James Carter

With Milt Buckner

  • Midnight Slows, Volume 1 (Black & Blue, 1973)
  • Midnight Slows, Volume 4 (Black & Blue, 1974)
  • Midnight Slows, Volume 5 (Black & Blue, 1974)

With Buck Clayton

With Arnett Cobb

With Wild Bill Davis

  • Midnight Slows, Volume 2 (Black & Blue, 1973)

With Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis

With Roy Eldridge

With Claude Hopkins

With Jay McShann

With Jimmy Rushing

With Al Sears

With Rex Stewart

With Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson

With Dicky Wells


  1. "Buddy Tate". All About Jazz. Retrieved August 10, 2012.
  2. "Buddy Tate, 87, Saxophonist for Basie's Band". New York Times. Retrieved October 23, 2019.
  3. "Most Valued Player: Buddy Tate". Jazz Institute of Chicago. Archived from the original on February 25, 2014. Retrieved August 10, 2012.
  4. Porter, Bob (1981). Helen (LP). Helen Humes. New York: Muse Records.
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