Born: October 9, 1951 Primary Instrument: Piano
Don Glanden was born in 1951 in Wilmington, Delaware. He began traditional classical piano lessons at the age of ten with Sarah Miller; within a year he was accompanying the elementary school chorus. He was immediately drawn to jazz after hearing Charles Freeman, the family piano tuner, play blues and standards at the conclusion of his regular tunings. A friend of trumpeter Clifford Brown, Mr. Freeman proved to be an inspiring and encouraging influence.
Don’s teen years were spent at Brandywine High School, where he took three years of classical theory and played in the school’s award-winning jazz band The Blazers. During this time he also studied jazz composition with film composer Tom McIntosh and jazz piano with Bernard Peiffer, both at the Wilmington Music School. Peiffer became a mentor and profound influence on Don’s musical development in the following years. After attending West Chester University, where he was a piano major and student director of the lab band The Criterions, he left college for a year to study piano and composition exclusively with Mr. Peiffer.
In 1973 Glanden transferred to North Texas State University, where he majored in composition and formed his own jazz quintet that included bassist Dennis Irwin. Other classmates included Marc Johnson, John Riley, Steve Houghton, and Lyle Mays. At NTSU he met Jo Lynn (Jody) Thomas; they married in 1974. He graduated in 1975 earning a Bachelor of Music degree in composition. In 1980, Don received a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Fellowship to study privately with Sir Roland Hanna. Sessions with Hanna continued over a two-year period and included piano studies, composition, and extensive analysis. Hanna included some of Don’s music in his own performances during this time.
Don received a Master of Music degree in Jazz Studies in 1997 from Rutgers, graduating with a 4.0 GPA. There he studied jazz piano with Kenny Barron and classical composition with Ronald Surak.
Additional classical piano studies have been with Alexander Fiorillo, and training in the Taubman approach with Robert Durso and Edna Golandsky.
Don has performed extensively in various settings with Donald Byrd, Ernie Watts, Terell Stafford, Henry Mancini, Larry McKenna, Patti Austin, Randy Brecker, Robin Eubanks, Chuck Israels, Wilby Fletcher, Charles Fambrough,Tom Darnall, Al Stauffer, Eddie Gomez, John Swana, Ralph Bowen, Gerald Veasley, Jimmy Bruno, John Goldsby, John Riley, Marcus Belgrave, Dennis Irwin, Marc Johnson, and Ken Filiano. He has recorded two compact discs as a leader, Sudden Life (Dream Box Media) and Only Believe (Cadence Jazz Records), and he has made various appearances on television and radio, at jazz festivals, clubs, casinos, and various concert venues. He was house pianist at the Hotel DuPont for 12 years and is currently music coordinator for Sullivan’s Steakhouse in Wilmington, where he performs and books the nightly jazz acts. His current working trio includes drummer Fred Biondi and bassist Micah Jones.
Don has served on the faculty at the Wilmington Music School, Combs College of Music, and Temple University. In 1996 he joined the faculty at The University of the Arts and was promoted to full professor in 2004. He is currently Division Head of Graduate Jazz Studies, Piano Department Chair, and Theory Department Co-Chair. He has presented numerous clinics and workshops at high schools and colleges, including Rowan University, Lincoln University, and The New England Conservatory.
His activities in the area of music scholarship include paper presentations to the American Studies Association and the International Association for Jazz Education, along with the publication of numerous articles in Downbeat, Jazz Improv, and All About Jazz. He has researched and documented the life of French pianist Bernard Peiffer, and in 2006 he co-produced Formidable, a disc of Peiffer’s solo piano playing. A leading researcher of the life and career of jazz legend Clifford Brown, Don is the producer of Brownie Speaks: A Video Documentary, and served as director of the Clifford Brown Symposium in fall 2008 at The University of the Arts.
...the pianist is a quality musician with an extraordinary conception and an impressive touch. His lush ballads and witty creations are of the highest emotional order, and his classical training shines through like a summoning beacon. —TOM BOWERS, Jazz Now Magazine
...a Philadelphia based pianist, dripping with talent... it’s clear that he has his own voice and approach to form and space. —JASON BIVINS, Cadence
...Glanden’s use of dissonance overwhelms and captivates. —BRETT MATSON, Victory Music Review
...a stunning solo piano version of “Autumn In New York,” the chords of which are almost entirely reharmonized. On other tunes, Glanden combines imaginative chordings with virtuoso melody-line runs. —ROBERT TATE, Jazz Now Magazine
...His compositions are singular as well, being quite extraordinary in their sensitivity... I could never express how much he’s expanded my musical horizons. —BRUCE KLAUBER, author and jazz historian
I have had the opportunity to work with Don Glanden in a variety of settings and I feel he is a disciplined and versatile musician and educator.
...his sense of improvisation allowed me to be spontaneous with the students... he demonstrated great skill as a reader and musical support to my more difficult charts. —ERNIE WATTS
My right (and left) hand man ...Don Glanden. —DONALD BYRD at The Kennedy Center