Location Knoxville, Tennessee, US
Profile Views: 25122
Last Login: 12/14/2012
Member Since 3/26/2007
Record Label Space Time/Blue Geodesics, Muse Records, Sunnyside
Type of Label Indie
Biopianist, composer, jazz educator, Donald Brown arrived on the jazz scene in the summer of 1981 when he became the pianist for Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. Donald was born in Desoto Mississippi in 1954 but grew up in Memphis, TN from the age of 2. He started out as a drummer and in the 9th grade started playing the trumpet, baritone horn, and tuba. He played in clubs around Memphis from the 9th grade until he graduated. He started Memphis State University in 1972 where he met pianist James Williams. Also, Donald switched from baritone horn to piano at this time. During this time Donald started playing and touring with some of the different artists on the Stax and Hi record label. He also started doing studio work for Jim Stewart (stax records) and Willie Mitchell (hi records). He started gaining a reputation as keyboard player touring or recording with Rufus Thomas, Isaac Hayes, Ann Peebles, Z.Z. Hill, William Bell, Jessie Winchester, Denise Lasalle, Dennis Coffey, Clarence McDonald, and even played bass on a recording for Al Green's Church. Donald's jazz career began in 1981 when he replaced James Williams with the Jazz Messengers. The band at that time included Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Billy Pierce, and Charles Fambrough. He traveled the world and made several recordings with the band. At this time Donald started gaining a reputation as a composer. His composition The Insane Asylum was recorded by Wynton Marsalis and was nominated for a grammy. After a year with the Jazz Messengers, Donald Moved back to Memphis and started doing studio work and playing top 40 music again. In 1983 he was offered a teaching position at the Berklee School of Music in Boston. During this time Donald's reputation as a teacher as well as a sideman became more known. He taught at Berklee from 1983-1988 and some of his students included: Cyrus Chestnut, Danilo Perez, Edsel Gomez, Julian Joseph, Sam Newsome, etc. Also Donald started performing with Johnny Griffin, Eddie Lockjaw Davis, Louis Hayes, Woody Shaw, Bobby Hutcherson, Toots Thielman, Dianne Reeves, as well as working with Freddie Hubbard off and on for several years. In 1988 Donald began teaching at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville where he is an Associate Professor of Music today. He has recorded as a sideman with Wallace Roney, Russell Malone, Donald Byrd, Carl Allen, Roy Hargrove, Joe Henderson. He has produced records for Kenny Garrett (4), Carmen Bradford, the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra, Lenora Helm, etc. He has recorded 14 cds as a leader. Donald is recognized as one of the top Jazz educators in the country and has been invited to do residencies at the Julliard School of Music, The Brubeck Jazz Colony, and many other universities throughout the world. He has had over 60 of his compositions recorded by artists ranging from Jon Faddis, Ralph Moore, Ralph Peterson, Toot Monk, Donald Byrd, Bill Mobley, James Williams, Javon Jackson, Elvin Jones, Mark Levine, Billy Pierce, Fleurine, Renee Rosnes, James Spaulding, Steve Wilson, Mulgrew Miller, Wynton Marsalis, Art Farmer, Billy Drummond, etc. In the early 90's Donald toured with a group featuring pianists Harold Mabern, James Williams, Mulgrew Miller, and Geoff Keezer called the Contemporary Piano Ensemble. Donald is still considered along with Mulgrew Miller, Kenny Kirkland, and Geri Allen one of the important voices to emerge from the early 80's. He continues to travel with his group that features his son Kenneth on drums, Essiet Essiet, and Steve Nelson on vibes and is in demand as a clinician............................
MembersI mostly perform solo, or with my quartet with Essiet Essiet on bass, Billy Kilson on drums, and Steve Nelson on vibraphone. Occasionally i travel with my sextet which includes the addition of Bill Mobley on trumpet and Jean Toussaint on saxophones.................
Influencesmy earliest influences were my cousin Lloyd "Stan" Anderson (a monster gospel pianist) and my sister Waddia who is an incredible gospel singer and pianist. And of course the list include: The Stax Record family, Booker T. and the MGs, Isaac Hayes, David Porter, Marvell Thomas, Lester Snell, Sidney Kirk, WILLIE MITCHELL, Al Green, William Murphy, Frank Westbrok, Bill Easley, Ray Griffin (my brother-in-law), James WILLIAMS, PHINEAS NEWBORN, HAROLD MABERN, CHARLES THOMAS, George Coleman, Frank Strozier, Louis Armstrong, Art Tatum, Teddy WILSON, Nat King Cole, Ray CHARLES, Mahalia Jackson, Billy Preston, Bernie Worrell, Parliament Funkadelic (i first saw when i was 15), Ahmad Jamal, Tadd Dameron, Bird, Dizzy, Monk, Kenny Clark, Bud Powell, Aretha, Donny HATHAWAY, Stevie Wonder, DUke Ellington, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Nina Simone, Ashford and Simpson, Smokey Robinson, Otis Redding, the Barkays, The Motown Family, James Jamerson, Marvin Gaye, Sly and the Family Stone, James Brown, Prince, Jimi Hendrix, Yes, James Gang, Led Zepplin, The Philadelphia International Sound Family, Hal David Burt Bacharach, Buddy Miles, Santana, Wynton Kelly, Red Garland, Ramsey Lewis, Les McCann, Monty Alexander, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Eddie Harris, Larry Dunn, Earth Wind, Chaka, Hank Jones, Freddie Hubbard, Woody Shaw, Wayne Shorter, Joe Henderson, Ron Carter, Richard Davis, Herbie, McCoy, Chic, Keith Jarrett, Jay McShann, Albert King, B.B.King, James BOOKER, ANDREW HILL, Clifford Brown, Bobby Hutcherson, Kirk Lightsey, Cedar Walton, Kenny Barron, John Hicks, Frank Westbrook, George Duke, Weather Report, Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, Peabo Bryson Rance ALLEN, Buster Williams, Thad Jones, Prince, Billy Holiday, Gene Harris, Count Basie, James P. Johnson, Charles Stepheney, King Curtis, Mahalia Jackson, Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight, Milton Nascimento, Bob Marley, and the beat goes on....
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