PAUL "BOOGIE" GAUDET [1928--2004]
"Boogie", always the last musician standing at any given jam session, is gone. He died at 1 a.m. on the morning of September 25 at the age of 76. In that lifetime he lifted the spirits of jazz fans here in Montreal with literally thousands of hours of swinging playing--most of it on tenor but if you were fortunate enough you also got to hear him play other instruments including the alto, valve trombone and trumpet. On tenor, an early influence was Charlie Ventura (in his "Bop For The People" period) and later Stan Getz. Gaudet was born in Moncton, N.B. on August 21, 1928. An Acadian, his grandfather was a fiddler and his mother and an uncle played piano. A brother played trumpet and bass and "Boogie" taught himself a number of instruments beginning on piano before adding guitar, drums, tenor sax and trumpet. He was drawn to the latter after seeing Harry James in the 1942 film SYNCOPATION. Before James, he had listened to Hank Snow on radio and found he was able to play Celtic reels on the piano, aping an uncle. He garnered his nickname by playing that genre of blues piano at parties and was a horn player in school bands. While still in high school he picked up spending money leading dance bands around Moncton. He settled in Montreal in 1953 [he and his brother had Travelled here on occasion beginning in 1948 and "Boogie" had been heard in St. Jerome and Ste. Agathe as well]. I first recall hearing him in the 50s at Le Chorie on Pine Avenue in the company of musicians like Guy Nadon, Lee Gagnon and an almost forgotten pianist, Claude Poirier. In the next 50 years he was heard all over this city and as I mentioned his endurance at jam sessions was of legendary proportions.
By 1954 he was playing in a show band led by Real Mathieu at spots like the Plaza Hotel and the Figaro. The next three years saw him leading a quartet that included musicians like trumpeters Wally Dunbar and Gilles Laflamme, pianist Vic Vogel and another unsung musician, drummer Johnny Hughes. Summers in Grandmere were off set by smoky nights backing (exotic) dancers at spots like the Bal Taborin, Vic's Café and the French Casino. Beginning in the fall of 1957 he had a financially successful period working (recording and touring) with "The Clover Boys", a rock group led by David St. James. The band was a smash in clubs, theatres and TV and worked in the U.S. as well as Mexico and Puerto Rico. His love of Charlie Ventura probably came to the forefront in this band which, with a name change to "Music Tree", lasted into 1971. He then joined "Sound Investment", another pop group that toured the U.S. through 1977 Upon his return to Montreal he was heard in a string of organ and piano duos through late 1982 with some time out to lead his own band in Mont Tremblant. The early 80s found him playing jazz with Roland Lavallee at Tiffany's on Crescent Street where he was heard playing both tenor and valve trombone. (The last time I was to see "Boogie" was at Lavallee's memorial earlier this year). As well he was heard at the Rib 'n' Reef with the band of Johnny Valenti where his trumpet came out of the closet. More jazz came with gigs at Biddles and The Bijoux and trips down home to play Halifax and Moncton as well an Acadian Festival in Caraquet, N.B. in 1986 and 87 and the Ottawa Jazz Festival in 1988 and then there were the hundreds of jam sessions that he enlivened with his superb brand of swinging tenor. For more see Mark Miller's book, "Boogie, Pete and The Senator" [Nightwood].
When my mother died, some 30 odd years after I first met "Boogie", we discovered that we were second cousins. So long cuz and thanks for all the memories on and off the bandstand.
© Len Dobbin 2004
Montreal, Quebec, Canada