was a dear student of mine and became a disciple in the Indian
tradition. Had he kept to sitar and worked harder he would
have become one of my best students. I was deeply shocked
by his untimely death - and will always miss the wonderful
person that he was!"
"I can still feel the weight of Collins hand on
my shoulder. It was as if a large, compact animal had gently
perched there. With those firm but gentle hands he would coax
every sound he could possibly find from any object with a
potential for music in it. Anything that would attract his
curiosity such as a shell, a box, a traditional instrument,
would receive his full attention as he methodically rapped,
tugged, plucked on it or breathed through it until he determined
whether it would qualify to join his arsenal of musical instruments.
He combined the scholarly approach with the instinctive, the
passionate with the pragmatic in the most complete and successful
ways that I had ever seen. The beauty of such a man lives
and teaches us forever. In stressful times, his example still
is available for advice and solace. His formidable strength
and gentleness still exists and helps to guide us in this
"Oregon was truly ahead of its time, and Collin was
so unusually gifted as a trained classical percussionist,
a conductor, and as a classical guitarist...he had so much
talent and such a refined sense of being a student of all
musics that he never spent any time promoting himself. He
lived as a true Buddhist...absolutely in the moment."
"I loved him and his music very much. He was one of the
early pioneers of world music before it was called that. We
worked together on the Bitches Brew sessions, also
one of the first major cross over albums."
had recently acquired a set of tabla, was given a couple of
rudimentary lessons, and wanted to go further with it. Oregon
was in town for a concert so I decided to look for Collin
backstage thinking he might have some suggestions. Asking
him if he knew of any teachers in my area, he thought for
a moment, said no, then offered his phone number if I wanted
it (his country home was about 75 miles from me). I thought
to myself "well, yeah, I guess your number will do". (My appreciation
for his music only bordered on idolatry at that time in my
life). I called him several weeks later and asking how much
I owed him for my first lesson, Collin replied "somewhere
between zero and a million dollars". Six months into my studies,
the amount paid still at zero, I asked again. He said he would
let me know when I was ready to start paying him. The average
lesson was about two hours, not including breakfast with his
family if I got there early or lunch if I arrived later. Mostly
it was tabla with occasional other things like a bit of jamming
(with Collin on sitar) or a demonstration of his sanza technique.
Collin taught me many things just by being around him, only
some of which had to do with music. I had the great honor
and privilege of being the only ongoing student he ever had.
Aside from a couple of edible offerings from my garden I never
got one cent closer to a million dollars."
Z. Shepard (composer of soundtrack for the film Such
with Collin was very informative. I sat on the floor while
he tried out several different rhythmic strums on the sitar
for me. It only took a few minutes to arrive at one that worked
perfectly with the song."
"In the summer of 1979, I went to the Creative Music
Studio mainly because Collin Walcott was one of the teachers
there at the time. Trilok Gurtu and Naná Vasconcelos
were also there that summer. Since the early 70s I had been
a big Oregon fan, and I remember listening to their records
over and over to figure out what Collin was doing. I loved
his way of coloring the music, and the way he played just
the right thing at the right time.
to many Oregon concerts (and later Codona) and sat in the
front row so I could watch Collin play. He always smiled at
me while I tried to hide the fact that he was my idol. I remember
one time Collin was having back trouble and missed the first
set at a now defunct club west of Philadelphia called the
Main Point. At the second set I could tell he was playing
while in pain.
Creative Music Studio (Woodstock, NY) I discovered Collin
was a very good teacher. I had studied tabla in India a couple
of years before this, but Collin showed me a few things that
were new to me. He also was very kind to let me photocopy
his little spiral music book, with Codona and Oregon music.
He was very generous to let me do this, and I remember that
when he handed it to me, he looked me in the eye and said
'Don't lose it' in a firm voice (I didn't lose it). Glued
to the inside of the cover was a picture of Alla Rakha.
gave me his phone number and address and said to call him
if I wanted to get together at his farm for a lesson. I regret
that since I lived in Delaware, quite far away, that I didn't
get a chance to visit him there, but for several years I did
get to get together in hotel rooms for a lesson whenever Oregon
passed through Philadelphia. I asked him how much I could
pay him and he said if the lessons ever get to be regular,
then we could work something out. I never did pay him anything,
but I always feel like I owe him so much. A lot of who I am
as a percussionist comes directly from Collin.
always remember Collin as a very kind man and a great musician.
I really don't think Collin has gotten the recognition he
deserves, and I think this web site is a wonderful way to
honor his spirit."
"Since the early 1970s, I have been an Oregon fan. I
loved Collin's music. I was deeply sad when 16 years ago the
world lost such a person and a musician. When finally in 1994
I saw for the first time in Italy an Oregon performance, I
gave personally to Ralph Towner, a humble poem dedicated to
the late Collin Walcott. Now, I've found this beautiful site,
and I feel the need to share with you these few and humble
words to remember him."
(In Loving Memory)
Taste of home and to be close to each other.
We are like dew in the sun,
but the emotions we gave to the others still remain.
I know that you're playing somewhere on a distant planet,
and the stars, now, have something to learn.
"In the summer of 1977, I was a student of poet Allen
Ginsberg's at Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado. A year
or so earlier, my life had changed when I walked into a friend's
room at Oberlin College, and 'Aurora,' from the Oregon album
Distant Hills, was playing. I thought it was the most
beautiful music I'd ever heard. Soon after that, I bought
my first jazz album: Collin's Cloud Dance (three decades
and hundreds of albums later, it's still one of my favorite
records). At Naropa -- an enthusiastic 19-year-old poet --
I told Ginsberg about my discovery. To my surprise, he'd heard
of Oregon. 'Oh yes,' he said, 'in fact, they're here!' (Such
synchronicities were typical of Ginsberg, and Naropa, and
in fact most good things).
that summer, Collin gave a concert in the gymnasium where
the big Buddhist dharma-lectures were held. The concert was
a duet with an old Japanese shakuhachi master, and they both
sat on the floor, Collin with his sitar and various percussion
instruments around him. It was very late, perhaps midnight,
when they began, and there were only about a dozen people
there at most, sitting in a circle around them. They just
played, following the deep grain of the music, for over an
hour. At one point, tears rolled down my cheeks. I felt very
lucky to be there. Thinking back, I feel even luckier."