Don Weller (musician)
19 December 1940 |
Thornton Heath, London, England
|Genres||Jazz, post bop, hard bop, rock|
|Instruments||Tenor saxophone, clarinet|
|Associated acts||Hannibal Marvin Peterson, Alan Barnes, Cat Stevens|
Don Weller began learning clarinet at the age of 14, and was classically educated on it for four or five years, soloing in Mozart's Clarinet Concerto at Croydon Town Hall when aged 15. He began playing in Dixieland bands around the Croydon area, but later switched to tenor saxophone and played in Kathy Stobart's rehearsal band.
In the 1970s his jazz-rock group Major Surgery played only Weller's compositions. This was followed by a quartet with drummer Bryan Spring. At the same time he worked regularly with pianist Stan Tracey, and also with Harry Beckett and in a quintet with Art Themen. Renowned for his versatility, he has played with artists such as Alan Price, Tina May and Charlie Hearnshaw.
He appears as lead sax (with Tower of Power backing him on horns)on the instrumental track "Nascimento" of Cat Stevens' 1978 LP Back To Earth.
In 1981 he stood in for Michael Brecker when the Gil Evans Orchestra played at the Bracknell Jazz Festival, subsequently touring the UK and recording with one of the band's trumpeters, Hannibal Marvin Peterson, added on to the Weller–Spring Quartet. He also played and recorded with Evans' British Orchestra in 1983.
Also in the 1980s, together with his friend and fellow tenor sax Dick Morrissey, Weller was a regular member of Rocket 88, the boogie-woogie fun band set up by Ian "Stu" Stewart and Bob Hall, appearing on the band's only album.
He has been involved with the films Absolute Beginners and Stormy Monday both as performer and composer. He won the 'Top Tenor' award in 1994, 1996 and 1998.[clarification needed] In 1995 he was commissioned by the Appleby Jazz Festival organiser Neil Ferber to write The "Pennine Suite" for a jazz big band which was premiered at the 1995 Appleby festival and released on CD the following year. Since then the band has regularly appeared at other jazz festivals. A more recent commission from Appleby Jazz was for his 'Electric Jazz Octet'.
- 1980: Commit No Nuisance - (with Bryan Spring)
- 1981: Poem Song – (with Marvin Peterson)
- 1987: A Little Blue (Miles Music) - (with the Quartet)
- 1996: The Don Weller Big Band (33 Jazz Records)
- 2001: Cannonball (ASC) - (Alan Barnes with the Don Weller Band)
- 2003: The Way You’re Going To Look Tomorrow Morning (Trio)
- 2007: Precious Time (Trio) - (with drummer Dave Barry)
- 2007: Nine Songs (Trio) - (with Bobby Wellins)
- Alun Morgan, sleeve notes for the Don Weller Spring Quartet (sic), Commit No Nuisance (Yes to Jazz 10048).
- Morgan, sleeve notes for Commit No Nuisance; Ian Carr, Digby Fairweather & Brian Priestley, Jazz: The Essential Companion (London: Paladin, 1988), p. 531, for the Mozart – though playing this in public after only a year’s tuition would be quite a feat.
- Morgan’s sleeve notes for Commit No Nuisance say, 'The change to tenor came about largely through the influence of John Coltrane and his Blue Train LP; from then on he became an avid listener to the New York-based tenors then being recorded by the Blue Note and Prestige companies. Hank Mobley, and probably most of all, Dexter Gordon, became his heroes.' But Brian Blain, 'Onward Flows the Don', in Jazz UK, 53 (September/October 2003), p. 15, quotes Weller as saying, 'My first tenor heroes were Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins and Sonny Rollins.'
- 'Inspired by Kathy Stobart, he took up tenor sax and played in her rehearsal band': Carr, Fairweather & Priestley, Jazz, p. 531.
-  Discogs. Retrieved 22 September 2013.
- Carr, Fairweather & Priestley, Jazz, p. 389.
- Sleeve notes for Gil Evans, The British Orchestra (Mole 8).