Donald Rafael Garrett

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Multi-instrumentalist Donald Rafael Garrett is best known for his clarinet and bass work with John Coltrane, although he collaborated with a great number of free jazz musicians and improvisers during…
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Multi-instrumentalist Donald Rafael Garrett is best known for his clarinet and bass work with John Coltrane, although he collaborated with a great number of free jazz musicians and improvisers during the 1960s and '70s. Born in 1932 in Arkansas, Garrett was raised in Chicago, IL. While still in high school, he first studied clarinet, and then also bass, under the influential Chicago great Captain Walter Dyett. Garrett began working closely with Muhal Richard Abrams in the late '50s, and continued into the early '60s as a member of Abrams' Experimental Band. The early '60s also found Garrett playing hard bop with Ira Sullivan; and recording with him, Eddie Harris, Dewey Redman (on Look to the Red Star), and Rahsaan Roland Kirk (on Kirk's debut album, Introducing Roland Kirk). In the mid-'60s, Garrett relocated to San Francisco and formed a band with multi-reedist Gerald Oshita and drummer Oliver Johnson called the Sound Circus. He remained on the West Coast until the early '70s and -- in addition to working with jazz greats like Archie Shepp, Sonny Rollins, Pharoah Sanders, and countless more -- performed on four John Coltrane recordings: Om, Kulu Se Mama, Selflessness, and Live in Seattle. He and wife/collaborator Zusaan Kali Fasteau -- a pianist, flutist, and cellist -- formed the Sea Ensemble in 1971, and the following year, embarked on a world tour that would cover many countries over the course of the next several years. During their travels, the Sea Ensemble recorded, included Glenn Spearman and Jay Oliver for nearly a year, and also toured with Archie Shepp. The duo also helped fund their travels through Garrett's skill at bamboo-flute making, while Fasteau gave lessons on the shakuhachi. Some of the other artists that Garrett worked with over the years include Johnny Griffin, Sonny Stitt, Joe Henderson, Beaver Harris, Butch Morris, Billy Bang, Frank Wright, and Jean-Luc Ponty. Garrett, a contrabassist, clarinetist, flutist, educator, and researcher, also studied Turkish music; some of his pioneering work is available on the Ankara recordings reissued by Fasteau's label Flying Note.