Don Suhor played clarinet and alto sax in a stunning variety of jazz contexts for 55 years in New Orleans. Virtually unknown outside of the city, he was universally admired by local musicians as a gifted improvisor. On clarinet he applied prodigious technique and knowledge of chords to develop a unique “Dixiebop” style. Trumpeter Wendell Brunious said, “I admired the way he could go from style to style seamlessly and flawlessly.” On alto sax he was a fluent and inventive bopper, influenced by a cadre of post-WWII modernists who jammed after hours at strip clubs in the French Quarter.
On both instruments Suhor frequently incorporated notes above the normal range of the horn into his solos—in Dan Morgenstern’s words,“not a technical stunt, but an extension of his voice that feels natural, not contrived.” James Markway, bassist and head of the Tulane Jazz Studies Program said that “Don absorbed Parker, Goodman, Shaw, and many others—then went beyond. His pursuit was developing musical mastery, independent of public acclaim.”