Remembering Eddie Gale


Eddie Gale, San Jose’s Ambassador of Jazz and a Noted Jazz Educator Succumbs to Cancer at Age 78

Eddie Gale, the pioneering Brooklyn-born jazz trumpeter who began his career as a sideman with legendary jazz artists such as Sun Ra, Larry Young, and Cecil Taylor before forging his path as a band leader on Blue Note Records and a performer and music educator on the East and West Coasts, passed away Friday, July 10, 2020. Gale was 78.

He had resided in San Jose since 1972. In 1974, San Jose Mayor Norman Y. Mineta named him “San Jose’s Ambassador of Jazz,” for helping to bring jazz to the schools, an honor Gale took seriously.

Gale used jazz diplomacy to build bridges between multicultural communities and generations, and promoted world and inner-peace through music. It caught on, earning him a loyal following and numerous awards, including the Sankofa Award from the California Arts Council for 25 years of service to youth and the Jefferson Award for community service in the arts. He was recognized by the New York Village Voice for “A Minute with Miles” named one of the Best Jazz Recordings of 1992. In 2019 he received a Black Legends Hall of Fame, Silicon Valley award.

With 35 years of support from his wife, Georgette Gale, the couple created community partnerships for youth and the world.

Gale was a healthcare advocate, especially for musicians. He created Jazz Musicians’ Self-Help Healthcare fundraisers donating proceeds from the performances to the Jazz Foundation of America.

To support the arts in public schools and engage music lovers, Gale organized the Evergreen Youth Adult Jazz Society, and the We’re Jazzed! Youth /Adult Jazz Festival to create performance opportunities for youth at venues in San Jose. One of his last San Jose projects was to give away dozens of free trumpets to youth.

With support from the San Jose State Cultural Heritage Center for 20 years, Gale produced his annual Concerts for World Peace and Peace Poetry Contest, and annual Concerts for Inner Peace in America and the World. These events were held at the Martin Luther King Jr. Library and the First AME Zion Church in San Jose. Gale also held a California Arts Council Residency and received funding from the council to produce improvisational music workshops at San Jose State University, the McClymonds High School and venues in the Oakland, CA community.

A believer in the power of jazz to transform society, Gale’s musical activism is highlighted in the history book Listen, Whitey! The Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975 by Pat Thomas.

“Eddie Gale and Horace Silver changed the sound of Blue Note with consciousness-raising lyrical-jazz compositions,” Thomas wrote. “While there are other politically conscious recordings in the Blue Note catalog, there’s nothing quite like the two albums trumpeter Eddie Gale recorded in 1968 and 1969. Social messages aside, Ghetto Music and its sequel, Black Rhythm Happening, are delightfully unique by any comparison.”

As a sideman Gale's discography includes Cecil Taylor’s composition “Inter-Evening,” which is part of the Smithsonian Collection of Classic Jazz. Gale was the oldest son of Edward and Daisy Gale Stevens, both deceased. He is survived by three of his four siblings, his first wife, Marlene, his six children: Donna, Marc, Chanel, Djuana, Gwilu and Teyonda, 12 grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren, numerous nephews, nieces, cousins, friends, and admiring jazz supporters worldwide.

As part of the trumpeter Eddie Gale legacy, his family and supporters want to continue to encourage musicians, develop music programs in our schools and support the jazz musician healthcare efforts that Eddie supported. This is what brought inner peace not only to him but also to the people who experienced and loved his music.

Message from the Family

Eddie's family would like to thank supporters worldwide for the global outpouring of love and memories expressed by people who love Eddie’s music and who continue their quest to achieve world and inner-peace.

In lieu of flowers, Eddie’s family requests that donations be sent to the Jazz Foundation of America, an organization that Eddie and many musicians raised funds for to support healthcare for jazz musicians.

According to a statement on the Jazz Foundation of America website:
“The bottom has fallen out of the live music industry…We have a large and growing number of clients who rely on us due to illness, old age, lack of work, or other circumstances. These artists live precariously even in good economic times, with no job security and minimal savings. Now they face an indefinite period of financial free fall, with months of gigs lost already.

One after another, musicians are saying the same thing: “I don’t know how I will provide for my family.”

We have established a COVID-19 Musicians’ Emergency Fund to help musicians and their families with basic living expenses. Your contributions expand the scope of this effort.

Jazz and blues will continue to give comfort and solace to lovers of the music throughout this crisis and beyond it.”

Here is the Jazz Foundation of America Donations Link:

Eddie Gale Music Memorial Livestream

With the Ascension of our dear friend, mentor, collaborator and inspiration Eddie Gale, and in this time of social distancing, we are seeking new ways to gather and express our feelings about this moment - a way for musicians to share words and sounds in appreciation of Eddie's life and spirit. We have created this collaborative online musical memorial as a way to come together and celebrate Eddie Gale's life, music and spirit. This event will be hosted by Clifford Brown, Jr and livestreamed from Doug Ellington's music performance space in Oakland, California. The event will be a combination of livestreamed performances and pre-recorded musical videos contributed by a wide range of musicians.

Participants in alphabetical order: India Cooke, Bill Crossman, Andrew Currier, Andre Custodio, Doug Ellington, Karl Evangelista & Grex, Kathleen Farrell & Chuck Cunningham, Karlton Hester, Diem Jones, Dennis Kyne, David Leikam, Eric Marshall, Valerie Mih, Hafez Modirzadeh, Destiny Muhammad, Sandra Poindexter, David Slusser, Len Wood.

Eddie Gale Memorial