and vocalist from Tyler, Texas, who joined the U.S. Navy as a young man and
studied at its school of music in the nation’s capital. After three years in the Navy, he furthered
his studies at the University of California in Los Angeles.
thereafter, he hooked up with The Trends, a vocal group that was a mainstay
on a radio program hosted by Rusty Draper. In 1959, he underwent some grueling
auditions but eventually won a job with the Hi-Lo’s. They broke up about five years later
and Don joined The J’s with Jamie.
when it looked like the era of the vocal group was over, Don, along with
Len Dresslar, Bonnie Herman, and Gene Puerling, formed The Singers Unlimited. Their modest goal was to make a living recording commercial jingles, but when Oscar
Peterson heard their rendition of “The Fool on the Hill”, he
quickly got them signed up with MPS, the record label he was working
with. They enjoyed a nine-year
run during which they released fifteen albums.
meantime, Don moonlighted with The Les Hooper Big Band, performing alto sax
on Look What They’ve Done
and singing on 1975’s Dorian
Blue. In 1976, he sang background vocals on the Seals & Crofts
album, Get Closer.
continued to perform live and record well into the new millennium. He rang in the Yuletide in 1990 on
the Janey Clewer
stocking stuffer, A Starlight
Christmas. In 1991, he blew
alto sax on Thomas Talbert’s offering, The Warm Café.
He switched to clarinet on Lisa Ono’s 1992 release, Serenata Carioca. In 1993, he multi-tasked on the
Thomas Talbert album, Duke’s
Domain, juggling alto sax, clarinet and flute duties.
collaboration continued in 1995, in tandem with the Bob Cooper Quartet,
with 50th Anniversary
Celebration: Back to Balboa. In 1996, he got some nice work on
Michael Feinstein’s Nice Work
If You Can Get It. He
played flute on 1997’s Textures
in Hi-Fi, which featured Robert Hicks with
the Pete Rugolo Orchestra. In 1998, he virtually comprised his
own reeds section on The Bob Florence Limited Edition album, Serendipity 18.
a member of the Patrick Williams Choir on Amy Grant’s 1999 holiday
gift, A Christmas to Remember. In 2000, he rang in the season with
Christmas Aguilera on My Kind of
Christmas. Keeping with the
tradition, he accompanied NewSong on The Christmas Shoes, which hit the
shelves in 2001. He spent 2002 On a Turquoise Cloud with The
Clarinet Choir of Clare Fischer.
2003, he did a comic turn providing vocals for the fictional New Main
Street Singers in the mockumentary, A Mighty Wind. He then contributed his time and
talent to a pair of jazz festivals in 2004, The Los Angeles Jazz Institute
festival and the 25th Annual Vocal Jazz
Festival at Columbia College.
In 2005, he played flute, soprano sax and tenor sax on Mark
Masters’ Porgy & Bess
Redefined. He was also one
of the saxophonists with the Artistry in Rhythm Kenton Orchestra for the
2006 Big Band Bash at the Hollywood Bowl.
2007, he rejoined The Bob Florence Limited Edition for Eternal Licks and Grooves.
The group performed a tribute to Bob Florence on 15th
June 2008 at Hollywood’s Catalina Bar & Grill. On 9th January 2009, he
soloed on clarinet in a performance of “Sing, Sing, Sing” at
First Baptist of Orlando with The Ralph Carmichael Big Band.
continues to perform live regularly at a lounge in Indian Wells,
California, named Vicki’s, with The Desert Cities Jazz Band.
The Oscar Peterson Trio and The Singers
Sesame Street (Bruce Hart/Joe Raposo/Jon
The Singers Unlimited recordings
Michelle (John Lennon/Paul McCartney)