Born: 1932 | Died: July 18, 1986 Primary Instrument: Sax, tenor
Don Wilkerson born abt 1932 and died 18 July 1986, was an American soul jazz/R&B tenor saxophonist born in Moreauville, Louisiana. Probably better known for his Blue Note Records recordings in the 1960s as bandleader with guitarist Grant Green. Prior to signing with the label, he worked frequently with Cannonball Adderley. Some of his earliest recording were done in the 1950s as a sideman for Amos Milburn and Ray Charles.
One of the paragons of the Texas tenor style, Don Wilkerson gained his greatest notoriety as a soloist with Ray Charles throughout much of the 50s and 60s. Less known is Wilkerson’s limited work as a leader, the majority of which is collected on this two-disc package from Blue Note. Wilkerson made three albums for the label during the fruitful years of 1962 and 1963: Preach Brother!, Elder Don, and Shoutin’! All three records feature guitarist Grant Green, who certainly knows how to cook in such a setting.
The first also boasts a classic Blue Note rhythm section: Sonny Clark on piano, Butch Warren on bass, and Billy Higgins on drums, with Jual Curtis sitting in on tambourine on “Dem Tambourines” and “Camp Meetin’.” On the second album, Johnny Acea takes over on piano, with Lloyd Trotman on bass and Willie Bobo on drums. The last of the three sessions is particularly down and dirty, with Green, John Patton on organ and Ben Dixon on drums.