Garrett Donald (Rafael)

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Garrett Donald (Rafael)

Garrett, Donald (Rafael), avant-garde jazz bassist, clarinetist, and flutist; b. El Dorado, Ark., Feb. 28, 1932; d. Champaign, 111., Aug. 14, 1989. While studying at Du Sable H.S., Chicago, he met Sun Ra, Richard Abrams, Johnny Griffin, Roland Kirk, Eddie Harris, and John Gilmore. He was performing professionally in 1955 when he met John Coltrane while the latter was touring with Miles Davis. The two performed together; Garrett played recordings of Indian music for Coltrane that influenced the latter. He played with Ira Sullivan during the early 1960s, and recorded with Sullivan, Kirk, and Harris (1960–62). With Abrams he co-founded the Experimental Band (1961), forerunner of AACM. Moving to San Francisco (1964), he organized concerts, made instruments, and taught; one protégé was bassist and flutist Bill Douglass, who noted Garrett’s emphasis on long, sustained tones. He recorded with Archie Shepp, and performed at San Francisco’s Both/And club in a group with Andrew Hill, Sam Rivers, and Oliver Johnson, as well as Leon Thomas. He played concerts and recorded with Coltrane on the West Coast (1965). In Paris in 1971, he worked with Frank Wright and Jean-Luc Ponty, among others. In the late 1970s, he began an association with singer-multi-instrumentalist Zuzann Fasteau, whom he subsequently married. Working together as the Sea Ensemble, they toured widely, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal, Morocco, Yugoslavia, Haiti, and India.


We Move Together (1974).

—Lewis Porter