Sunday, May 3, 2009

Guitarist Coleman Mellett RIP,_Chuck/

I remember the airplane crash in Buffalo, and how the day before a news commentator was saying that it's been over a year since we've had a major airplane crash, not including the crash landing of the airliner in the Hudson, which didn't have any major casualties.

Then the Buffalo crash, in the freezing rain, and I think I recall that some musicians were on board, but I didn't get any names, and it wasn't until I read this article that I realized that Coleman Mellett was one of the victims.

Chuck Mangione Performs for Plane Crash Victims
May 3rd, 2009 3:42 EST.

Jazz musician Chuck Mangione took to the stage in New York on Friday night to raise money for the families of his two former bandmates who were killed in a plane crash in February. Gerry Niewood and Coleman Mellett were among the passengers on the jet which came down near New York's Buffalo Niagra Internatational Airport killing all 49 people on board.

The band's concert in Buffalo the following night was canceled as a result of the loss. And Mangione has kept his promise to play in the town with a special tribute raising money for people affected by the disaster. More than 200 tickets were donated to victims & family and residents living near the crash site, with the proceeds going to the Town of Clarence Flight 3407 Memorial Fund. Mangione also teamed up with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra to pay for concert-goers to attend a special aftershow party.

His name jumped right out at me, and I knew, as soon as I read that story, that I knew Coleman Mellett.

I remember Coleman Mellett from Cape May, where I'm sure he played the Shire Tavern and the Cape May Jazz Fest, and may have been one of the recipients of one of the Cape May Jazz Fest music scholarships.

Coleman Mellett. He was just a kid, one of the youngsters who were hanging around Pat Martino at the Shire, and later at the Jazz Fest with Monette Sudler and Geno White.

"Coley" always had a ready smile and carried his guitar around like it was his cross.

Carole Stone and Woody had nice things to say about him, and they may have picked up on him playing somewhere else and invited him to Cape May, like they do all the time.

And he married Jeanie Bryson, one of the Cape May Jazz Fest regulars. They probably met at Cape May.

Here's some more stories off the wire:

A memorial Mass for jazz guitarist Coleman Timothy Mellett of East Brunswick, N. J., who died Feb. 12 in the crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407 in Clarence Center, will be offered at 11 a. m. Saturday in St. Peter Catholic Church, Washington, D. C. He was 34.

Born in South Natick, Mass., he graduated from elementary and high school in Maryland and attended William Paterson University in Wayne, N. J., and Manhattan School of Music.

A member of the Chuck Mangione band since 1999, he was hired after the trumpeter spotted him on a Manhattan cable television show. He also performed frequently with his wife, jazz singer Jeanie Bryson, the daughter of Dizzy Gillespie.
In addition to his wife, survivors include a stepson, Radji Bryson-Barrett; his parents, Kenneth M. and Mary Ellen; a brother, Zebulon S.; and a sister, Brady Jane.

Coleman Mellett was killed when Continental flight #3407 crashed near Buffalo on February 12, 2009.

An accomplished jazz guitarist, Mellett was a touring member of trumpeter Chuck Mangione's band for the last several years. The group was scheduled to perform Friday night at the Kleinhans Music Hall with the Buffalo Philharmonic.

In a statement Mangione, said: "I'm in shock over the horrible, heartbreaking tragedy."

Mellett grew up near Washington, D.C., and moved to New Jersey to study at William Paterson University, according to his MySpace profile. After graduating he moved to New York and earned a master's degree at the Manhattan School of Music in 1998.

Mellett, 33, lived in East Brunswick, N.J., with his wife, singer Jeanie Bryson, according to the Star-Ledger of Newark.

Coleman Mellett is a gifted jazz guitarist, educated at Duquesne and William Paterson University's and the Manhattan School Music. He has studied with Jazz greats Rufus Reid, Kenny Burrell, Norman Simmons, Steve Turre, and Harold Mabern. He has had the good fortune to work with musicians like Joe Williams, James Spaulding, Frank Wess, Doug Lawrence, Etta Jones, Christian McBride, and others.

While performing on Manhattan Cable Television with organist Adam Scone and drum legend Ben Dixon, who is known internationally for the Blue Note recordings he made with “Big" John Patton and Grant Green, he caught the eye of Chuck Mangione. Mellett was invited to audition for Mangione and was hired on the spot to be the substitute for Mangione's regular guitarist, Grant Giessman. Chuck invited Mellett to be a permanent member of the group, and since then Coleman has been touring the world with the Chuck Mangione Band. 01, 2009

While listening to WBAI, the station played an In Memoriam for members of Chuck Mangione's Band who were on board on that flight to NY. I thougth how terrible! Then this past Firday, while at a meeting, I was reading an article in the Home News Tribune (New Brunswick, NJ) about an educational program I was involved with, and suddenly my eyes shifted toward a heading which mentioned "local jazz musician in fatal airplane crash." My heart sank when the paragraph started off with Coleman's name. And of course, what other Coleman could it be.

Coleman, was one of our music teachers at the Jazz Institute of New Jersey, a not- for-profit organization that taught jazz and life skills to underprivileged children.

My deepest sympathies go to his family and partner and wife Jeannie Bryson. Indeed, I can only believe that because of who he was, he was here for a purpose. I pray that he receives much blessings even on the other side.

Maria Alvarez
New Brunswick

I met Coleman in 2000 along with Jeff McSpadden when they had the smooth jazz group The Salt Brothers. I became a fan and signed him up to SESAC. He was a very sweet and humble guy and a great musician. He had a classic sound to his playing that was so advanced for his age.

He was also a great composer. If you can find the Salt Brothers CD "The Right Move", get it! It's a great piece of work! And the Coleman Mellett original song, "Creepy" featuring Jeanie Bryson on Vocals is a hit! I once saw the band play to a packed room at the Top of the World Trade Center, one of our last visits to the WTC before 9/11. Coleman was a great talent, and a great man and he will be remembered.

Linda Lorence-Critelli, SEASC, NY

Coley Mellett played guitar in one of the first jazz groups I was in, The Blues Alley Youth Combo. Even though it was about 18 years ago that we played together, I remember how great he played when we were both cutting our teeth on some of our first gigs. Thanks, Coley, for inspiring me and many others with your great music.
Michael Jones,

On February 13, 2009, musician Chuck Mangione's publicist confirmed that Mangione's guitarist, Coleman Mellett had been killed in a plane crash near Buffalo, New York the previous day. Mellet and fellow band member Gerry Niewood were aboard Continental Flight 3407, which crashed into a Buffalo house on the evening of February 12, 2009.1

Fast Facts

Jazz guitarist and guitar teacher2
Originally from the Washington, D.C. area3

Spouse: Jeanie Bryson2

Played backup for musician Chuck Magione

Attended Duquesne University on a music scholarship,
then transferred to William Paterson University3
Received a master's degree in Jazz performance
from the Manhattan School of Music3

Joined Chuck Mangione's band in 1999

Released debut solo album Natural High in 2007

Died on February 12, 2009


"I'm in shock over the horrible, heartbreaking tragedy." — Chuck Mangione

MySpace Music: Coleman Mellett Profile

CD Baby: Coleman Mellett: Natural High

Buffalo News: Publicist: 2 Mangione musicians die in plane crash (February 13, 2009) Guitarist Mellett loves its versatility (May 15, 2008)

AllABoutJazz: A Listeners Venue for Jeanie Bryson and Coleman Mellett Performance (July 13, 2007)

Transcript From Buffalo Crash Reveals Extensive Pilot Banter


The pilots of the Continental Connection turboprop that crashed in February near Buffalo, N.Y., rushed through mandatory checklists in a matter of seconds, but spent almost the entire 59-minute flight from Newark, N.J., bantering about personal issues, job goals and the theoretical hazards of ice accumulation during winter flying, according to the cockpit recorder transcript released Tuesday by federal investigators.

The transcript shows that the Colgan Air Inc. crew, Capt. Marvin Renslow and co-pilot Rebecca Shaw, violated mandatory safety rules by discussing extraneous topics during the descent to Buffalo, just before their twin-engine Bombardier Q400 aircraft slowed dangerously and went into an aerodynamic stall, killing 50 people.

Data released by the National Transportation Safety Board indicate that the stall wasn't triggered by ice accumulation, but rather by Capt. Renslow's pulling back on the controls and overpowering an automatic stall-protection system that was pushing the nose of the plane down in order to regain a safe flying speed.

The transcript of conversations reflects a breakdown in cockpit discipline as the pilots laughed and joked extensively about previous flying experiences, the rigors of commuting to work by air and their own shortcomings as aviators.

There was hardly any discussion, until the last few minutes, about the conditions of the flight they were operating. Immediately after completing required checklists, the pilots resumed extraneous discussions.

Icing was on the crew's mind approaching Buffalo in snow and mist. Starting four minutes before the crash, and just before rushing through the descent checklist, the crew talked about dramatic buildup of ice around the windshield. "Oh yeah, it's full of ice," the co-pilot said. The captain replied, "that's the most I've seen . . . in a long time." But instead of discussing their situation and agreeing on a plan of action in case of an emergency, the crew immediately switched to discussing personal anecdotes regarding icing.

Co-pilot Shaw, is quoted on the transcript reminiscing about how little experience she had with ice during her early training flying in the Southwest U.S. "I had more actual time (experiencing icing) on my first day" with Colgan "than I did in the 1,600 (flight) hours I had when I came here," she said, according to the transcript.

The co-pilot, who had been hired by Colgan less than a year before, went on to say: "I really wouldn't mind going through a winter in the Northeast before I have to upgrade to captain."

The training and behavior of the pilot and first officer in the crash, the worst in U.S. air crash in more than seven years, were prominent on the agenda of an unusual three-day safety hearing that started Tuesday.

For the journalists, industry officials and relatives of victims packed into the NTSB's auditorium, the transcripts of what the crew said -- and how distracted they appeared to be -- provided the most chilling part of the hearing.

As the plane neared Buffalo and descended to below 2,300 feet, things deteriorated quickly for the crew. According to documents released at the hearing, the crew leveled off the aircraft and set the engines to idle in what seemed like a normal approach. Within three seconds after the landing gear went down, however, the engines were revved to maximum power.

It took only a total of about 20 seconds until the crew received a stall warning, the autopilot disconnected and the plane lost lift, rolled and slammed into the ground.

While the broad outlines of the last few minutes of the flight had been reported earlier, the first day of the hearing provided more information about the crew's actions in the cockpit. The data confirmed earlier reports that Capt. Renslow continued to pull back on the controls to raise the plane's nose during the entire seven seconds that the so-called stick-shaker was warning the crew about an impending stall. The normal reaction to such a warning is to lower the nose in order to gain speed.

Just after the cockpit microphone picked up the sounds of the engines increasing to full power, Capt Renslow exclaimed: "Jesus Christ."

Ms. Shaw, for her part, began doing what she could to save the plane. "I put the flaps up," she said. Eight seconds later, she asked the captain, "should the gear up?"

Capt. Renslow replied: "Gear up. Oh (expletive)."

From there, the cockpit microphone picked up an increase in noise from outside the plane.

Less than a second before impact, Capt. Renslow said: "We're down," followed by the sound of a thump.

The last words on the recording were those of Ms. Shaw. "We're (sound of scream).

The National Transportation Safety Board was holding hearings on safety issues that have arisen during its investigation a mere three months after the crash, rather than waiting the year or more that such investigations typically take to complete. A second hearing will be conducted when the investigation is complete.

Colgan Air, which operated the Continental Connection flight, said Monday that the plane's captain was fully qualified and had "all the training and experience" required to safely fly the twin-engine turboprop.

A spokesman for Colgan, a unit of Pinnacle Airlines Corp., also released information to counter assertions that an overly demanding work schedule may have impaired the captain's judgment.

Marvin Renslow, who was flying the plane that crashed had a "light enough schedule" the three previous days to provide "ample time for rest," according to the statement. Colgan said Capt. Renslow had "nearly 22 consecutive hours of time off before he reported for duty" the day of the accident, nearly three times the mandatory minimum rest period.

People close to the probe said Capt. Renslow had flunked numerous check rides as part of his training. A Wall Street Journal article on Monday reported that investigators believe that during the flight, which departed from Newark, N.J., he may have reacted in an improper way because he hadn't been adequately trained to use emergency equipment intended to prevent the Bombardier Q400 from going into a deadly stall.

In the wake of the crash, Colgan faces heightened regulatory scrutiny, including investigations by the Federal Aviation Administration, of potential crew-scheduling violations. Since the accident, FAA officials overseeing Colgan have issued at least 16 letters of investigation questioning the carrier's compliance with flight-time and duty-time regulations, according to people familiar with the details. The inquiries cover the period from November 2008 to March 2009.

Colgan spokesman Joe Williams has said the FAA is examining unusual instances when "pilots legally flew beyond daily, weekly or monthly" mandatory limits, but said, "We don't expect any enforcement actions."

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