born March 28, 1954
A lyrical pianist and prolific composer as well as a teacher, band leader and arranger, Donald Brown is considered one of the masters of contemporary jazz composition. Raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Donald studied trumpet and drums as a youth. It was not until he began studying at Memphis State University that he switched to piano as his primary instrument, the late start making his pianistic skill all the more incredible.
His professional music career began as an accompanist for local R&B artists, but he quickly gained recognition after he replaced James Williams in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers in 1981. It was with the Messengers that he recorded on his first professional gig. He was appointed to be a professor at Berklee College of Music in 1983 and continued his teaching career with the University of Tennessee in 1988.
Donald's prolific discography includes many as a leader on a variety of labels like Evidence, Muse, and Sunnyside. His composition The Insane Asylum earned a Grammy nomination when it was recorded by trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. He has collaborated and recorded with a diverse list of jazz legends such as Louis Hayes, Wynton Marsalis, Slide Hampton, Billy Pierce, TS Monk, Billy Drummond, Bobby Watson, Steve Nelson, Woody Shaw, Kenny Garrett and Diane Reeves. He continues to be one of the top jazz pianists of his generation and is composing and performing extensively today.