by W. Kim Heron
In a synopsis of his career, they wrote:
Don’s first professional job at age 13 was performing with the Dorothy Ashby trio. After graduation from Cass Tech, he toured with the David Bowie band. While pursuing his musical education, he was a member of the Tom Saunders traditional band, as well as touring with renowned drummer J. C. Heard’s big band and bebop artists such as Clark Terry. A great favorite of vocalists, he toured nationally with Lena Horne, Joe Williams, Diane Schuur, Mel Torme, Rosemary Clooney, Johnny Mathis and Michael Feinstein. He also performed internationally with Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers and many, many others. A highly respected classical bassist, he has played with the Detroit and Scandinavian Symphony orchestras.
He was a powerful bassist, whether plucking or bowing. And he spoke in deep, resonant voice that mirrored his instrumental one, enhancing a presence that was at once commanding and relaxed. And if there’s any one place to hear him, his recording of spirituals in duets with vocalist Angie Smith, Let My People Go, put him in as demanding a format as a bassist can find. There’s no place to hide – and Don never needed any.
As the Barefield’s e-mail noted, he was a “musician’s musician,” who could perform in any setting from a classroom to Broadway, but his first love was performing jazz.
“We are all devastated by this news. He brought so much joy to so many. Always a huge hug and an ear to really hear what you had to say or play. We were all blessed to know him,” WEMU’s Linda Yohn said in another e-mail that circulated among jazz heads.
Mayberry was to perform this Friday and Saturday at Baker’s Keyboard Lounge along with Barefield and the singer Naima Shambourger. They’ll continue with performances that will now be dedicated to Don’s memory at 9 and 11 both nights.
Update: Barbara Barefield passes on these arrangements from Don's family: