Saxophonist and flautist Jim Coile died last week, in an accident on his way home from a kayaking and fishing trip in Mexico. Coile worked with several groups in the Pacific Northwest, and he was one of the original members of Seattle’s longest-running Latin jazz band, Sonando.
Jim had recently retired from his day job at Boeing, and by all accounts, he was having a great time traveling in his RV.
Sonando’s founder Fred Hoadley told me that he’d met Jim around 1990. “Jim had just moved back to Seattle from Los Angeles. I don’t remember who introduced us, some mutual friend. He came over and played some tunes and I realized that he was really good,” says Hoadley. “I was, at the time, thinking about starting Sonando, and he was my first choice.”
The earliest version of Sonando had only Jim in the horn section. A little later on, Jim would recommend trumpeter/saxophonist Jay Thomas to be added to the group.
Jim Coile also contributed original compositions to Sonando’s repertoire. “He wrote a couple of tunes for the first two recordings, 'Trane Trip' for the first Sonando album and a samba called 'Pokey’s Big Surprise' for La Rumba Está Buena, the second album,” Hoadley recalls.
Coile and Hoadley were good friends. They would go on skiing trips together, and Jim would bring his young daughter to Sonando’s rehearsals.
“Jim was pretty laid-back, and he had a really dry sense of humor, he could be hysterically funny,” says Hoadley. “He’d been around the block two or three times, and he just took everything as it came.
“He was very professional, and he could play anything, he was such a good player,” Hoadley continues. “Jim played with a lot of great bands when he was in LA, too, and it’s amazing how many people in LA still remember him from those days. That was 30 years ago.
“Jim played with so many different styles of musicians,” Hoadley recalls. “He could fit into anything. He was really good with Latin music, intuitively. He hadn’t made a study of all the percussion patterns and everything, but he just felt them. He always fit in, his solos always made perfect sense. He wasn’t one to talk about all the nuances of different kinds of Cuban music, but he felt it and fit in.
“He could play all styles, he was very, very versatile,” Hoadley continues. “He played classical music, too.”
Services for Jim Coile will be held at the First Lutheran Church in West Seattle on July 6 at 1 p.m.
Listen for Jim playing piccolo with Sonando on the Sonny Rollins composition “Pent-Up House” this Saturday on Jazz Caliente.
Here he is on flute for "Changüi Pa' Changüito" from Sonando's live KNKX Studio Session from last year.
Jazz Caliente airs Saturdays at 5 p.m. The show is hosted by Robin Lloyd and produced by KNKX Public Radio.