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Don Lanphere Dies

Saxophonist Don Lanphere, who was a contemporary of Charlie Parker and a veteran of New York City’s famous 52nd jazz scene in the ’40s and ’50s, died Thursday at Group Health Eastside Hospital in Redmond, Wash. of hepatitis C. He was 75.

Lanphere was a native of the Pacific Northwest, born in Wenatchee, Wash., where his father ran a music store. In 1947, at the age of 19, Lanphere took his tenor sax to New York and immersed himself in the bebop scene. He cut records with trumpeter Fats Navarro and can be heard on most best-of Navarro collections. Lanphere also found a place within the big band community and played in the jazz orchestras of Woody Herman, Artie Shaw, Claude Thornhill, Charlie Barnet and Billy May.

Despite his résumé, Lanphere didn’t record as a leader until 1982, after he had successfully kicked a drug habit and returned to the Northwest. He recorded 13 albums under his own name, mostly for the HEP and Origin Arts labels, and became known in the local community as the statesman of Northwest jazz. Lanphere also promoted jazz on the radio as half of “The Don and Bud Show,” a Monday morning radio program on Bellevue, Wash.’s KBCS-FM, co-hosted by Bud Young of Seattle’s Bud’s Jazz Records. The show began in the late ’90s and Lanphere co-hosted until this summer, when he became too ill.

He is survived by his wife, Midge.

Originally Published