Courtesy of the Berklee College of Music
One of the photographs found in Pat Patrick's boxes. Patrick is pictured playing the baritone sax.
One of the photographs found in Pat Patrick's boxes. Patrick is pictured playing the baritone sax. Courtesy of the Berklee College of Music
Over the course of his career, Pat Patrick accompanied many jazz greats: John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington. He was a career sideman.
His son, however, was born to lead.
Deval Patrick was elected governor of Massachusetts in 2006. Shortly after his inauguration, he came into possession of a vast archive of his late father's work. Photographs, recordings, scores — a whole life in jazz packed into long-forgotten boxes.
Patrick donated that collection to Boston's own Berklee College of Music, which this past week celebrated the opening of the Pat Patrick collection with a concert.
Deval Patrick's parents split when he was only 4 years old. His father resided in New York, while he and his mother lived on Chicago's South Side. The distance took its toll, but even so, the governor's relationship with his father endured through the latter's music.
"I didn't know him so well growing up," Patrick says, "and I'm grateful for that music as a pathway."
Darren McCollester/Getty Images
Deval Patrick campaigns for the Massachusetts governorship in October 2006.
Deval Patrick campaigns for the Massachusetts governorship in October 2006. Darren McCollester/Getty Images
An Impressive Archive
Patrick says his father was a pack rat. He kept notes, playbills, recordings and record albums he'd acquired during his life as a touring musician. When the saxophonist died of leukemia in 1991, boxes of his things were left unclaimed in a storage unit. They narrowly avoided the Dumpster on several occasions. But when the owner of the storage unit read that Deval Patrick was elected governor, he called him about the boxes.
"[The storage unit's owner] drove it from East Moline, Ill., to Boston — these boxes of real treasures," Patrick says.
Patrick poked through the boxes and was astounded by what he found.
"There were thousands of photographs," he says. "There were photographs of his concert tours, of his family ... of almost every concert where he had a camera."
Patrick saw his father play live many times, but he says one of the most memorable was on his 25th birthday.
"He was performing at a jazz club in Northeast Washington [D.C.] called Pigfoot, and he asked me to come by," Patrick says. "I sat at a little table by myself, and he saw me come in. He said, 'I want to dedicate this next number to my son, whose birthday is today.' "
His father then played the jazz standard "I Can't Get Started," and according to Deval, it summed up their relationship perfectly.
"He played this incredibly soulful solo, and we just locked eyes through the whole thing," he says. "That was the best and most meaningful bridge for the two of us in finding a place for each other."