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date: 04 December 2020

Butterfield, Don locked

  • Leroy Ostransky


(b Centralia, WA, April 1, 1923; d Cedar Grove, NJ, Nov 27, 2006). American tuba player. After army service (1942–6) he studied at the Juilliard School, then undertook studio work for CBS and NBC. He performed with symphony orchestras and local big bands until he became a full-time member of the resident orchestra at Radio City Music Hall. From 1955 to 1956 he participated in concerts of the Jazz Composers’ Workshop with Charles Mingus, Teo Macero, and Teddy Charles; during this period he also led his own sextet. He performed again and recorded with Mingus in 1962–3, and in 1983 he played on an album by Macero that was devoted to Mingus’s music. He also recorded with Bill Evans (ii) (1974) and the Thad Jones–Mel Lewis Orchestra (1976). Butterfield’s technique was, for its time, uncommonly florid, a skill that made him of value as a jazz musician. With a similar tradition, as represented by such little-known early jazz players as Bert Cobb or Octave Gaspard, having died away, he was one of the first modern jazz players who, rather than simply marking out the bass line, rediscovered the possibility of bringing to the instrument a facility akin to that of a trumpeter....

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L. Feather: The Encyclopedia of Jazz in the Sixties (New York, 1966/R1986)
L. Feather: The Encyclopedia of Jazz (New York, 1955, rev. and enlarged 2/1960/R1984)