Cultural Percussionist

Don Pullen Day

Don Gabriel Pullen (December 25, 1941 – April 22, 1995) was an American jazz pianist and organist. Pullen developed a strikingly individual style throughout his career. He composed pieces ranging from blues to bebop and modern jazz. The great variety of his body of work makes it difficult to pigeonhole his musical style.

Pullen was born on December 25, 1941, and raised in Roanoke, Virginia. Growing up in a musical family, he learned the piano at an early age. He played with the choir in his local church and was heavily influenced by his cousin, Clyde “Fats” Wright, who was a professional jazz pianist. He took some lessons in classical piano and knew little of jazz. At this time, he was mainly aware of church music and the blues.

 

Pullen left Roanoke for Johnson C. Smith University in North Carolina to study for a medical career but soon he realized that his true vocation was music. After playing with local musicians and being exposed for the first time to albums of the major jazz musicians and composers he abandoned his medical studies. He set out to make a career in music, desirous of playing like Ornette Coleman and Eric Dolphy.

Share this post

Leave a Comment