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Don Alias

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Don Alias
Birth nameCharles Alias
Born(1939-12-25)December 25, 1939
New York City, New York, U.S.
DiedMarch 28, 2006(2006-03-28) (aged 66)
New York, New York, U.S.
GenresJazz, jazz fusion
Instrument(s)Drums, conga drums, percussion, bongos, djembe, udu, shaker, finger cymbals, tambourine, bells, cabasa, claves, palitos, African drums, batá drum, cowbell, marimba, cymbals, timbales, dumbek, timpani, quinto, shekere, snare drum, African percussion, kalimba, mark tree, jam block
Years active1960s–2006
WebsiteOfficial website

Charles "Don" Alias[1] (December 25, 1939 – March 28, 2006)[2] was an American jazz percussionist.

Alias was best known for playing congas and other hand drums. He was, however, a capable drum kit performer: for example, Alias played drums on the song "Miles Runs the Voodoo Down" from trumpeter Miles Davis's album Bitches Brew (1969) when neither Lenny White nor Jack DeJohnette was able to play the marching band-inspired rhythm requested by Davis.[3]

Alias performed on hundreds of recordings and was perhaps best known for his associations with Miles Davis and saxophonist David Sanborn, though he also performed or recorded with Weather Report, singer Joni Mitchell, pianist Herbie Hancock, the Brecker Brothers, Jaco Pastorius, Pat Metheny, Nina Simone and many others. Alias was born in New York City and arrived in Boston in the early 1960s intending to study medicine, but after playing congas in a number of local bands, made an abrupt career switch.



As sideman


With Philip Bailey

With Cheryl Bentyne

  • Talk of The Town (Paddle Wheel, 2002)
  • The Lights Still Burn (Paddle Wheel, 2003)
  • Moonlight Serenade (King, 2003)
  • The Book of Love (Telarc, 2006)

With Carla Bley

With Blood, Sweat & Tears

With Jonathan Butler

  • Heal Our Hand (Jive, 1990)
  • Head to Head (Mercury, 1993)

With Uri Caine

With David Clayton-Thomas

  • Bloodlines (DCT, 1999)

With Marc Cohn

With Miles Davis

With Jack DeJohnette

With Klaus Doldinger

  • Doldinger in New York – Street of Dreams (WEA, 1994)

With Eliane Elias

With Joe Farrell

With Roberta Flack

With Dan Fogelberg

With Michael Franks

With Bill Frisell

With Hal Galper

With Kenny Garrett

With Don Grolnick Group

With Herbie Hancock

With Ian Hunter

With Elvin Jones

With Dave Liebman

With Joe Lovano

With Pat Metheny Group

With Bob Mintzer

  • One Music (DMP, 1991)

With Joni Mitchell

With Jane Monheit

  • In the Sun (N-Coded, 2002)

With Pages

  • Future Street (Epic, 1979)

With Jaco Pastorius

With Weather Report

With Lou Reed

With Sanne Salomonsen

  • In a New York Minute (Virgin, 1998)

With Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin

With Lalo Schifrin

With Marlena Shaw

  • Love is in Flight (Verve, 1988)

With Nina Simone

With Jeremy Steig

With Ira Sullivan

With Steve Swallow

With James Taylor

With The Tony Williams Lifetime

  • Ego (Polydor, 1971)


  1. ^ surname pronounced ah-LIE-ahs
  2. ^ Chinen, Nate (April 5, 2006). "Don Alias, 66, Percussionist and Sideman, Is Dead (Published 2006)". The New York Times. Retrieved August 7, 2023.
  3. ^ see the notes for The Complete Bitches Brew Sessions (1998)