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Friedman, Don

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Don Friedman was born May 4, 1935, in San Francisco. His parents loved classical music and they owned a piano. Under their guidance, Don started playing at age four. He began lessons at five with a private teacher named Katherine Swint. Though he had no exposure to jazz at this time Don taught himself to improvise.  By the mid 1950s L.A. was the capital of West Coast Jazz and Don was becoming part of it as he worked around town with groups that included Shorty Rogers, Chet Baker, Ornette Coleman, and Scott LaFaro. At the same time, he displayed his hard bop credentials by gigging with Dexter Gordon. He made his first records as a sideman with trumpeters Hank DeMano and Jack Millman. In 1956 Buddy DeFranco hired him for a tour that included gigs at New York's Birdland and Basin Street. During this period in New York City Don played in many settings, including his own trio and with artists such as Pepper Adams, Booker Little, Jimmy Giuffre, Charles Lloyd, Chuck Wayne, Elvin Jones and Herbie Mann. Late in the 1960s Don began his association with Clark Terry, working in his big band.  He also began teaching at New York University as well as leading its jazz ensemble. Since then Don has continued to be in demand in New York City as a jazz pianist and educator, while regularly touring the United States, Europe and Japan with top-flight groups. His lyrical style, technical virtuosity and mastery of solo performance continue to draw critical acclaim and respect from his peers.


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