I was watching the Grammies this evening. More listening than watching, really. And I happened to look up toward the end. They were scrolling the In Memoriam list and I was deeply saddened to see that pianist and composer Don Shirley had died. Somehow I’d missed the news of his death last April. The New York Times story reminded me what a talented man he was.
The Don Shirley Trio was one of my favorite groups when I was in college, even though I’d never been a great fan of jazz. Their song “Water Boy” was big on the charts (1965) and it was a stroke of luck that they included the University of Oklahoma on their tour. The student union auditorium was the perfect intimate setting for their unique music (acoustic in those days). Prior to the concert, “Water Boy” was the only song of theirs that I had heard. Afterwards, I bought every album they’d recorded.
Donald Walbridge Shirley
January 29, 1927 – April 6, 2013