Don Weller (musician)

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Don Weller
Birth name Donald Arthur Albert Weller
Born (1940-12-19) 19 December 1940 (age 77)
Thornton Heath, Croydon, England
Genres Jazz, post bop, hard bop, rock
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Tenor saxophone, clarinet
Associated acts Major Surgery, Hannibal Marvin Peterson, Alan Barnes, Cat Stevens

Donald "Don" Arthur Albert Weller (born 19 December 1940 in Thornton Heath, Croydon, Surrey)[1][2][3] is an English jazz musician, tenor saxophonist and composer.


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.[4] He began playing in Dixieland bands around the Croydon area, but later switched to tenor saxophone[5] and played in Kathy Stobart's rehearsal band.[6]

In the 1970s, his jazz-rock group Major Surgery played only Weller's compositions on the album released as "The First Cut". 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 played saxophone on the 1973 album Allright on the Night by British hard rock band Tucky Buzzard.[7] 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. He also played on the Alex Harvey album The Mafia Stole My Guitar released in 1979 delivering the solo on the track Wait For Me Mama and writing Don's Delight.

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.[8] He also played and recorded with Evans' British Orchestra in 1983.[9] 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.

Weller has been described as a "first choice for TV and film soundtracks".[10] He played the saxophone solo on David Bowie's theme song for the film Absolute Beginners (1986).[11] He also contributed to the jazz club movie Stormy Monday (1988).[10] 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.[12] Since then the band has regularly appeared at other jazz festivals. A more recent commission from Appleby Jazz was for his 'Electric Jazz Octet'.

Selected discography[edit]

  • 1976: The First Cut - (Major Surgery) Next Record Co.
  • 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)
  • 2013: The First Cut" (Major Surgery) - CD edition with bonus tracks. Last Music Co.


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Alun Morgan, sleeve notes for the Don Weller Spring Quartet (sic), Commit No Nuisance (Yes to Jazz 10048).
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ 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.'
  6. ^ 'Inspired by Kathy Stobart, he took up tenor sax and played in her rehearsal band': Carr, Fairweather & Priestley, Jazz, p. 531.
  7. ^ [1] Discogs. Retrieved 22 September 2013.
  8. ^ Carr, Fairweather & Priestley, Jazz, p. 389.
  9. ^ Sleeve notes for Gil Evans, The British Orchestra (Mole 8).
  10. ^ a b Green, Michael (19 November 2013). "International line-up for Mold jazz concert". The Chester Chronicle. Retrieved 6 August 2016. 
  11. ^ Jeffery, Alex (12 January 2016). "The Pranny Genius Of David Bowie". musicOMH. Retrieved 6 August 2016. 
  12. ^

External links[edit]