Don Burrows

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Donald Vernon "Don" Burrows AO, MBE (born 8 August 1928 in Sydney, Australia) is an Australian jazz and swing musician, who is a multi-instrumentalist, best known for clarinet, but also saxophone, and flute. For his contribution to the arts, Burrows has been awarded as a Handel Music Prize and has a supper club named for him at The Regent Hotel in Australia.

The Don Burrows Group[edit]

Burrows is best known for his work with the Don Burrows Quartet: Don Burrows (multiple woodwind), George Golla (guitar), Ed Gaston (bass) and Alan Turnbull (drums). Burrows is both a duel recipient of the MBE, and AO. Burrows has played with many world-renowned musicians including: Frank Sinatra, Dizzy Gillespie and Nat King Cole, Oscar Peterson, James Morrison, Tony Bennett, the Sydney Symphony, Stéphane Grappelli and Cleo Laine.


Don attended Bondi Public School where, in 1937 a visiting flute virtuoso and teacher, Victor McMahon played. He inspired the boy to take up flute. Initially it was a B-flat flute which he had to pay off at sixpence per week. (He later played the same little flute in Carnegie Hall at the Newport Jazz Festival.)[1]

By 1942 he had taken up clarinet and played on "The Youth Show", a Macquarie Radio show and in 1944 was invited to play and record with George Trevare's Australians. Now his name became well known in Sydney jazz circles and he was playing in the likes of dance halls, nightclubs and radio bands.

In 1972, Burrows was invited to perform at the Montreux Jazz Festival [2] and later the Newport Jazz Festival.

1973 was a watershed year for Burrows in which he received the first gold record won by an Australian jazz musician for his record Just the Beginning,[3] instigated the first jazz studies program in the southern hemisphere at the New South Wales Conservatorium of Music (under the direction of Rex Hobcroft) and was awarded the Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).[4] In 1979 he was appointed Chair of Jazz Studies at the Conservatorium.

Burrows has performed to normally classical music audiences through tours with Musica Viva and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation concert series.

Burrows fronted the nationally televised show The Don Burrows Collection for six years. He has an extensive recording career in his own right with his groups and has performed on many more albums with other artists.

In the 1980s, he associated closely with the then young James Morrison.

In the 2000s, Burrows' public profile has receded somewhat as he performs less than he used to.[citation needed]

In 2005 he toured with a small band including renowned Australian jazz pianist Kevin Hunt.[5] Burrows is using his photographic images with his music in a show called Stop, Look and Listen.


Social matters and interests[edit]

Burrows lives in Paynesville on the Gippsland Lakes of Victoria.

He has had a lifelong hobby of black-and-white photography, beginning in his 20s as an active participant in the Sans Souci and Caringbah camera clubs in Sydney. He sees the creativity of music and photography having significant similarities. He is also an avid fly fisherman.

Burrows has suffered from arthritis since age 38. In a 2008 interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Andrew Ford, celebrating his 80th birthday, he said "arthritis is not the greatest for playing a musical instrument. But playing a musical instrument is very, very good for arthritis".[9]


This is a partial discography:

  • 1966 The Jazz Sound of the Don Burrows Quartet, Columbia Records
  • 1969 2000 Weeks (OST), EMI SCXO-7883
  • 1971 Just the beginning
  • 1972 Live At Montreux, Cherry Pie Records
  • 1974 The Don Burrows Quartet at the Sydney Opera House, Cherry Pie
  • 1975 The New Don Burrows Quintet
  • 1975 Duo, Don Burrows & George Golla, Cherry Pie
  • 1975 The Saxophone Artistry Of Don Burrows, Columbia
  • 1976 The Tasman Connection, Cherry Pie Records
  • 1976 Cool Yule, Cherry Pie
  • 1977 Don Burrows and the Brazilian Connection
  • 1977 Steph 'n' Us, Stephane Grappelli/Don Burrows & George Golla Duo
  • 1977 Don Burrows and the Brazilian Connection, Cherry Pie
  • 1978 At The Sydney Opera House, Cherry Pie
  • 1979 Bonfa Burrows Brazil, (with Luis Bonfa), Cherry Pie
  • 1979 Back in Town, Andrews/Brown/Burrows/Turnbull, 44 records
  • 1980 Brazilian Parrot
  • 1982 Jazz Brothers - A Retrospective, ABC Music
  • 1982 A Night in Tunisia
  • 1982 Sara Dane: Music Inspired by the T.V. Series
  • 1985 Makin Whoopee, ABC
  • 1985 Jazz at the Opera House
  • 1986 Flute Salad, Don Burrows & Chris Hinze, ABC
  • 1994 Together at last, Julie Anthony & Don Burrows
  • 1994 Strings of Swing, Ian Cooper
  • 1999 Whenever, Morrison Records
  • 2005 Non-stop Flight, Don Burrows & The Mell-o-tones
    • Other places other times, Don Burrows & George Golla Duo, Cherry Pie
    • Burrows At The Winery, ABC
    • Someone who cares, Cherry Pie
    • The Babinda Trilogy, Warner Bros. Records


  1. ^ Ford, Andrew. "ABC Radio National". The Music Show. Retrieved 11 December 2014. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "'Just the Beginning' on australianscreen online". Retrieved 2011-03-03. 
  4. ^ It's an Honour - Member of the British Empire
  5. ^ Award-winning jazz performer Kevin Hunt
  6. ^ It's an Honour - Officer of the Order of Australia
  7. ^ "2004 Winners - APRA Music Awards". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 2 September 2010. 
  8. ^ Jackson, Andra (3 May 2007). "For jazz Hall of Fame, it's plain and simple: is Don, is good". The Age (Melbourne). 
  9. ^ "Don Burrows transcript". Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) The Music Show. 2008-08-09. Retrieved 2008-09-17. 

External links[edit]