You may notice over the next couple of days that San Jose City Hall is lit up in rainbow colors as a way to pay tribute to Eddie Gale, who was an iconic jazz trumpet player decades ago. The display started Thursday night to honor Gale, who got the nickname “San Jose’s Ambassador of Jazz” back in 1974 by the mayor at the time Norman Mineta.
Eddie Gale was 78 years old when he died of prostate cancer just over a year ago on July 10th, 2020. His birthday is this Sunday which coincides with the last day of the San Jose Jazz Summer Fest. According to Bay Area News Group, the rainbow colors will be displayed on the exterior of City Hall until Tuesday.
Gale was born in New York but moved to the Bay Area in the early 70s as an artist-in-residence at Stanford. He moved to San Jose in 1972 where he stayed for much of his life. Gale was well known before he headed west performing with greats like Cecil Taylor, John Coltrane, Art Blakely, and Max Roach. Gale was part of the Sun Ra Arkestra in the 1960s as well and also released several albums. Blue Note Records were behind his two biggest albums, “Ghetto Music” in 1968 and “Black Rhythm Happening” one year later.
San Jose Vice Mayor Chappie Jones arranged for the city hall display. “My hope is that when you pass by the City Hall Tower and Rotunda in the coming week, and see it lit up in colorful lights, that the memory of Eddie Gale, his many accomplishments, his dedication to Jazz, and his powerful work in the community radiate on for many years to come,” Jones wrote in a Facebook.
Watching some jazz at San Jose Jazz Summer Fest would be a way for you to pay your own tribute to Gale. His sister told the New York Times after gales death, “His whole mission was to use jazz as a way to educate people about community and Black culture.”