Don Sleet Quintet - All Members

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2022 release

Donald Clayborn “Don” Sleet was hailed in the early 1960s by critics and fellow musicians as one of the best jazz trumpeters in the country. However, it is likely that few jazz lovers today have even heard of him. The little-known "All Members" from 1961 is his only album as a leader.

Born in 1938 in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Don moved with his family to California, and grew up in San Diego. He started playing trumpet at 13 and his first musical references were Miles Davis and Kenny Dorham. Blue Mitchell also caught his attention and from each of these he assimilated the elements that helped him evolve and shape his own style.

In 1959, he found his own way, as one of the members of the new young group Lenny McBrowne and the Four Souls, and made a name for himself through the group's two albums released in 1960 and 1961. After the group disbanded, prolific producer Orrin Keepnews did not hesitate to ask Don to record an album for his label Jazzland Records.

For the recording, Keepnews took Don to New York and surrounded him with four major artists from the local jazz scene: tenor sax Jimmy Heath, a veteran ofmany of the best bop groups from late '40s; pianist Wynton Kelly, and drummer Jimmy Cobb from the Miles Davis rhythm section, and avant-garde bassist Ron Carter. This one-day session produced an excellent recording of consistently warm hard-bop playing.

On this debut album as a leader, Don Sleet fulfilled all expectations, confirming him as a soloist of restrained hard swing, lyricism, and seductive strength. His tone is light but fullbodied, indicating depth of color and tonal expression.

He was a young trumpeter and seemed destined for success, but his “personal problems” kept him away from mainstream music. Sadly, he enjoyed a very short career and died in obscurity at the age of 47 on the last day of 1986. "All Members" is proof enough that Don Sleet deserved a much higher profile.

—Jordi Pujol


SKU 8427328611190
Barcode # 8427328611190
Brand Jazzland / Fresh Sounds Records

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