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Bebop Spoken There

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Monday, June 01, 2020

R.I.P. Don Weller (1940 - 2020)

The news has just come in that tenor saxist Don Weller died on Saturday (May 30).

I have many memories of hearing him blow - play seems too weak a word when talking about Don - he was a veritable powerhouse. I remember him coming into the music shop in Newcastle where I worked after he'd done a storming gig at The Corner House the previous night. He wanted to buy some reeds, Rico Royal strength 5, the hardest reeds possible at the time. They were almost as thick as a tree trunk (slight exaggeration!). 

I remarked that he must have strong chops to blow strength 5 reeds. He replied, "I'm waiting for the day when they make number sixes!"

Yes, he was a regular visitor to Newcastle and I heard him in a variety of settings ... a quintet gig with another great departed tenor player Bobby Wellins, with Hannibal Peterson, as well as gigs with local rhythm sections and top tenor men from the area such as Sid Warren and the emerging Lewis Watson.

Yes, Don was a character alright! On the occasion mentioned earlier when he bought the reeds, he popped them in his sax case which contained, apart from his tenor, his underwear from the previous night!

A giant both physically and musically.

Don Weller was 79
Sadly missed.
Lance.

Photo courtesy of Lance taken on Feb. 16, 1983.

3 comments :

Steve T said...

Sure I saw him at a Newcastle Jazz Festival in the early eighties.

Lance said...

1981 (82?): The Don Weller-Brian Spring Quartet.
1983: Don Weller, Bobby Wellins Quintet.
1988: Dick Morrissey and Don Weller w. Billy Harper Trio.

Just three of his Festival appearances at Newcastle.

Steve T said...

I saw Dick Morrissey with Jim Mullen in Yarm some time in the early eighties so I'd have remembered that one. I only started listening to 'real' jazz in 79 so my guess would be 83.

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