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Donald Leight Dies

Donald Leight, trumpeter and inspiration for the hit play Side Man, died on January 3 in Manhattan of pneumonia and complications from Parkinson’s Disease. He was 80.

Indeed, Leight led a career as the archetypal sideman. He leapt into the jazz world after service in World War II and from 1948 to 1950 was the featured soloist in Buddy Rich’s band. He played with Woody Herman and Claude Thornhill during this period. From ’56 to ’68 Donald performed regularly with Frank Sinatra, Lena Horne and Sammy Davis Jr. at upscale New York clubs such as Copacabana and The Persian Room. Leight’s career was most stable when he performed in Hair on Broadway from ’68 to ’72. Leight can be heard on RCA’s November 2003 release of Hair‘s original cast recording, The Broadway Deluxe Collector’s Edition.

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