"My Brother, Don Sleet" - JazzWax

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November 24, 2009


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Greg Lee

Wow, what a moving tale of the jazz life, Southern California style. You can tell in the words of his brother how much promise was there, and how much was left unplayed. Making your blog a home for stories about human beings, Marc, and not just a cyber cocktail party for arguing about our favorite licks and tunes, makes this a far more lasting tribute to the men and women who make this music we love. I'm glad there was an alert reader out there who could hook you up with Don's brother to flesh out this very human story. Here's wishing all the Jazzwax readers a great Thanksgiving.

Rab Hines

Thank you again for a great article. There's nobody else out there writing things even half as interesting as can be found here.

David Sleet

Thanks for the comments to the articles about Don Sleet. It's great to know others can know Don a little better, and appreciate so much what you have created for the jazz world. Keep up the good work

David Sleet
[email protected]

Paul Tomashefsky

Thanks very much for this very informative look into the life a one of the greatest Jazz Trumpet players and sadly one of the few virtually unknown talents of his short time on the planet. I have enjoyed listening to Don's Playing since I first heard him played on a Boston Jazz station several years ago, probably when they reissued his All Members album onto CD. Thanks also to David Sleet his brother for sharing all this info. . . Great story!
Musically yours,
Paul Tomashefsky (Trumpeter)
Worcester, MA area

J.d. King

Thanks so much for posting this!

About 15 years ago, I happened on an LP copy of "All Members," in clean shape, cover and disc, for two bucks. It was an all-star cast - except for the leader. Who was Don Sleet?

Over the years, I've been able to piece together info from here and there.

Now this!

"All Members" is a great straight-ahead jazz session.

I've got it on CD, too. It's wonderful road music.



Superb to see this article on Don Sleet. I've been aware of him for ages and was happy to get more info especially from his brother. I have played alot with Mike Wofford, John Guerin, Gary LeFebre, and Jim Plank. I was probably a pest asking questions about Don , seeking more info about him . I was surprised that there was no mention of the 2 LPs he did with Lenny McBrowne and The Four Souls, also long out of print ( but I have copies ). Anyway, thanks a million for this.
Bobby Shew

Carl Saunders

Nice article.. I really dug Don's playing . It was melodic and warm.. I first heard him on the Shelly Manne John Williams record .. Its a drag that he wasn't more widely known .. Carl Saunders

Richard Berdel

Thanks David (and Hi Marsha wherever you are) for this tribute to my pal and musical buddy Don. I too studied under Don's father and later under Daniel Lewis at Helix High (some years later Daniel Louis became conductor of the USC Symphony). We were exposed to classical music during the day and jazz at night. From 1952-55 (when I graduated) we had a Friday night gig at the La Mesa Youth Center during summer break. It was great fun and a wonderful experience to play with such talented musicians. I've read on some other web sites that Don's playing was very good but that there were a lot of good players during those years... Well, I beg to differ. Granted that the All Members album failed to show Don in his best form due in large part to poor audio balance which failed to emphasize Don's horn. Don't forget that a really great performance does not have to be recorded in order to profoundly influence those listening. I know that Don Sleet was a great and influential creative musician. ROCK-ON!

Jeff Kirschenbaum

Just discovered Don's playing from a friends posting on FB. The story of his life rings unfortunately true for several jazz greats from that era. David's story was a well written homage to his brother. I'm glad I finally discovered this great blog!

Athena Batcheldor

My mother Gayle married Don when I was 10 years old. They would come visit me at Christmas every year and he always supported her in this difficult time. They loved each other until the day he died and she told me he was the love of her life

The comments to this entry are closed.


  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of 55 More Songs," "Anatomy of a Song," "Rock Concert: An Oral History" and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax has won three Jazz Journalists Association awards.
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