Although he is Muskegon born and bred, music has taken Dave Collee to 28 countries around the world. And as Band Leader and trombone player for Truth in Jazz Orchestra, he keeps coming home to Muskegon.
Dave’s grandfather was a back porch drummer and a crooner with a heartfelt love of music. His uncle was a trumpet player in the Frank Lockage Band back the days of the Fruitport Pavilion.
“Hearing him practicing on the porch at an early age was an inspiration to me,” Dave notes.
Though Dave joined the band, playing trombone in junior high, everything changed during his junior year in high school. Don Fretty came in as a new band director and he exposed the students to jazz. For Dave and others, being able to play in a high school jazz band added excitement and fun to music and, for him, that excitement hasn’t ended. And Fretty returned the favor by playing with TIJO for several seasons before his passing.
After high school, Dave continued his musical training at local colleges and eventually at Berklee College of Music in Boston. After schooling, he went on road traveling all over the U. S. with rock operas Jesus Christ Superstar and Today is a Good Day to Die.
Later he worked as a music technician with George Thorogood and The Destroyers and with Ted Nugent. That work took him all over the U. S., but also across Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
In recent years, Dave played trombone and bass for Norwegian Cruise Lines and Azamara Cruise Lines touring the Mediterranean, Europe, and the Bahamas.
In addition to work with TIJO and to writing music, Dave leads the Dave Collee Quartet and the Checkers Morton Band.
“There’s nothing like big band music,” Dave says. “It’s happy music.” He likes the excitement of performance, unique orchestrations, the interaction with other players, and the sheer power of the big band.