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Don Alias

Charles Donald Alias, Sr., son of Eugene Alias and Violet Richardson, was born on December 25, 1939 in Harlem, New York.

Don received his education in Boston where he met and wedded Paulette Wilson. From this union two beautiful children were born - Charles Donald Alias, Jr. and Kimberlee Marisa Alias. The family has grown to include four wonderful grandchildren - Franklin, Avante, Devin and Chloe Alias.

While in Boston he spent many nights at the Berklee School dorms. It was there that he jammed with drummer Tony Williams and pianist Chick Corea and became part of a band called Los Muchachos, along with bassist Gene Perla who became his life long partner. Don played percussion as a child in Harlem and began his working career steeped in Afro-Cuban music. In the 70's and 80's he worked with an array of legendary musicians including Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Nina Simone, Herbie Hancock, Pat Matheny, Lou Rawls, Mongo Santamaria, Roberta Flack, Chick Corea, Joni Mitchell, Chuck Mangione, David Sanborn and many, many others. His first venture leading a band came with the creation of his group Stone Alliance that included saxophonist Steve Grossman and bassist Gene Perla.

"What possess someone to play the conga drum, to beat on a drum with your hands? It's a strange instrument I'll say, and in some ways really masochistic to play them. Listen to your heartbeat, it is like a drum, and you cannot live without your heart." - Don Alias

Don Alias entertained millions across the globe with power and style, and his musical spirit leaped off the stage. His sensitivity to other musicians, in particular other percussionists, made Don so popular among his peers. He also played the trap drums as well as assorted Latin percussion with equivalent skill. The “chops always had to be tight,” he would say, and they always were.

He was our touchstone; our musical inspiration in life, our guide, our friend, he was our beloved father. We have shared with him our concerns, emotions and thoughts of life's philosophies. We realized that his soul ran deep and that he was genuine. He was an entertainer. His love… always, his emotions... strong as any natural force on earth... his name… respected. The Alias family appreciates the love and kindness that you have shown during this difficult time. Your generosity will always be treasured and never forgotten.


Selected Discography:

Stone Alliance, Live in Buenos Aires (Mambo Maniacs, 2006)
Stone Alliance, Live in Bremen (Mambo Maniacs, 2005)
Bill Frisell, Mysterious Voyage: A Tribute to Weather Report (Tone Center/ESC, 2005)
Mike Stern, These Times (ESC, 2004)
James Moody, Looking for America (Watt/ECM, 2003)
Jane Monheit, Soul Insider (ESC, 2001)
Barbara Dennerlein, London Concert (Fuzzy Music, 2000)
Howard Mandel, Future Jazz (Knitting Factory, 1999)
Michael Brecker, Oneness (ECM, 1996)
Steve Khan, On the Corner (Columbia, 1972)
Miles Davis,

Tags

25
Reassessing

The Electric Years Box Set

Read "The Electric Years Box Set" reviewed by Mike Jurkovic


In a year that has brought us a true bounty of previously unheard majesty including Evenings at the Village Gate: John Coltrane with Eric Dolphy (Impulse!), and Bill Evans; Treasures: Solo, Trio & Orchestra Recordings from Denmark (1965-1969), (Elemental Music) it is only fitting that Miles Davis get his due. And in a very, very big way. Seared into modern memory, modern art, the music presented on the gloriously massive, eleven LP set Miles Davis: The Electric Years ...

54
Cymbalism

Don Alias and Jaco Pastorious

Read "Don Alias and Jaco Pastorious" reviewed by Melanie Futorian


[Author's Note: This marks the last article in the four-part series for Cymbalism, a tribute to the great percussionist and my companion, Don Alias. Please look for the forthcoming photo book on Amazon.com, Don Alias: The Moments We Spent. As well, keep an eye out for my upcoming for All About Jazz interviews with David Sanborn, Miles Evans and others.]Don Alias and Jaco PastoriusI had been touring supper clubs, posh hotels and concert halls with Lou ...

109
Cymbalism

Don Alias and Joni Mitchell

Read "Don Alias and Joni Mitchell" reviewed by Melanie Futorian


[Editor's Note: Cymbalism is an All About Jazz column featuring excerpts from an upcoming autobiography on the late, great percussionist Don Alias, co-written by Melanie Futorian, his companion for the last seven years of his life. This installment covers Alias' collaboration with singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell] Joni and I were living together working on our romance. She was a prolific genius; a woman who wrote about what happened in her life. I had introduced her to my musical world ...

90
Cymbalism

Don Alias and Miles Davis

Read "Don Alias and Miles Davis" reviewed by Melanie Futorian


[Editor's Note: Cymbalism is an All About Jazz column featuring excerpts from an upcoming autobiography on the late, great percussionist Don Alias, co-written by Melanie Futorian, his companion for the last seven years of his life. This installment covers Alias' work on trumpeter Miles Davis' iconic Bitches Brew (Columbia, 1970)]It was [drummer] Tony Williams who actually called me for that unforgettable Bitches Brew session. Man, when I walked into the studio and I saw the Bitches Brew personnel ...

106
Cymbalism

Don Alias and Nina Simone

Read "Don Alias and Nina Simone" reviewed by Melanie Futorian


[Editor's Note: Cymbalism is a new All About Jazz column that will feature excerpts from an upcoming autobiography on the late, great percussionist Don Alias, co-written by Melanie Futorian, his companion for the last seven years of his life. This installment pays tribute to the sixth anniversary of his death in March, 2006.] Don Alias and Nina SimoneIt was Gene Perla who called me up one day and said, “Hey man, why don't you just try ...

1,071
Interview

Don Alias: Heart, Soul and Lungs

Read "Don Alias: Heart, Soul and Lungs" reviewed by Mike Brannon


We have lost one of the greats.

The proverbial six-degrees-of-separation aside, Don Alias, has played with everyone. Active since the late '50s, he stands as easily the most influential percussionist in jazz and one of the few who ever transcended jazz and flamenco successfully and could by all accounts truly swing hard on congas. Alias has created or added an almost spiritual dimension to the pivotal work of Miles Davis, Joni Mitchell (touring with the dream band of Mike Becker, ...

580
In the Artist's Own Words

Don Alias: A Tribute

Read "Don Alias: A Tribute" reviewed by Mike Brannon


World-class conguero, salsero, drummer and percussionist extraordinaire, Charles Donald Alias was born on Christmas Day, 1939--though obviously the music world had yet to know the gift it had received.

With a half century and most of his life spent in music, Alias not only performed across a profound cross-section of modern music but was a catalyst in its forging. It's a deep honor that's tempered with great sadness to share this loss and to be responsible for Alias' last interview. ...

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1

Book / Magazine

"Don Alias: Stories of a Legendary Percussionist" By Melanie Futorian Available on Kindle

"Don Alias: Stories of a Legendary Percussionist" By Melanie Futorian Available on Kindle

Source: Melanie Futorian

The Don Alias ebook is now out. This book recounts the journey of a great, American percussionist who set a new standard in percussion in a multitude of musical genres from Afro Cuban to jazz. From the 1950s into the new millennium, his performances ranged from playing on the streets of Harlem to recording the groundbreaking Miles Davis album, Bitches Brew. Don Alias: Stories of a Legendary Percussionist is derived from our many fascinating conversations, excerpts from his personal journal ...

20

Book / Magazine

Percussionist Don Alias Recalls Miles Davis at All About Jazz!

Percussionist Don Alias Recalls Miles Davis at All About Jazz!

Source: All About Jazz

For Mel Futorian's second installment of Cymbalism—a column devoted to excerpts from a planned autobiography of Don Alias—she reveals the percussionist's reflections on working with trumpeter Miles Davis. Alias has plenty to say on the recording of Davis' seminal Bitches Brew (Columbia, 1970), including how the late legend lifted the percussionist from Nina Simone's band, and how Alias unexpectedly found himself behind the drum kit for “Miles Runs The Voodoo Down." Check out Don Alias and Miles Davis, today at ...

154

Website

Don Alias featured at All About Jazz

Don Alias featured at All About Jazz

Source: All About Jazz

When Don Alias passed away suddenly on March 28, 2006, the world lost one of the truly great percussionists of the past 50 years. Alias never released a single album under his own name, although Stone Alliance, '70s trio with bassist Gene Perla and saxophonist Steve Grossman, was a vital musical force in its time (and there are plans to make much of its discograpy available on CD for the first time in the coming months) - but he played ...

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Obituary

Don Alias, 66, Percussionist and Sideman

Don Alias, 66, Percussionist and Sideman

Source: All About Jazz

Don Alias, 66, Percussionist and Sideman, Is Dead By NATE CHINEN NY Times Published: April 5, 2006

Don Alias, a percussionist who had a long career as a sought-after sideman, working with an illustrious array of artists in jazz and pop including Nina Simone, Miles Davis and Joni Mitchell, died on March 28 at his home in Manhattan. He was 66. His death was announced by Melanie Futorian, his companion, who said the cause ...

Michel Seba
percussion

Photos

Music

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

The Electric Years...

Columbia Records / VMP Anthology
2023

buy

Unspeakable

Nonesuch Records
2004

buy

Inside

Cristal Records
1999

buy

A Tribute to Miles...

N2K Encoded Music
1998

buy

Another Hand

Elektra Records
1991

buy

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