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Don Joham :: The Jazz Man and his talents
by Sandi, his friend

I met Don when he was 22 and playing at the Lighthouse with a band consisting of he, Charlie Shoemake on vibes, Charles Lloyd on sax, and George Stearns on bass. Don, a drummer, just stunned the great musicians who came in to catch the collegiate contests Easter week in 1957 the beginning of his career.

They, not knowing I knew him, would talk about him within my hearing zone, talking among themselves about the kid who was so very good; wondering where he had come from, saying his talent was amazing, and wondering why they only just then were hearing him play. They were awed by him, and surprised to learn he was a local fellow. They were shaking their heads in disbelief at his skill and the emotion he put into his music.

Following the end of the competitions, several top jazz men such as Art Pepper, Vince Guaraldi hired him as well as the Lighthouse All Stars, on a consistent basis. The list of men and women he played with then and later, is truly a Jazz A list. Don - a talented fellow, it was a joy to hear them all play together, (Charlie, George, Charles and Don), and hear how they complemented one another, no one trying to steal the stage, the show. Their way with one another was amazing, good to see and hear. Other musicians were thinking the same way, they impressed them as well.

Don went on to play with the best of our jazz artists we all know today, and along the way he developed friendships and musical associations with the most talented. He was sought out by our "legends", as they too appreciated his style, his ability, his personality as well as his "professionalism". This was a nice man, a food fella, and all who knew him realized it.

This was a man with the most amazing talent, I just can't stress this fact enough, and all who knew him realized this as well. People such as Red Norvo and LeRoy Vinegar, Howard Rumsey and others, as there were many more who were thinking he was someone to watch, they believing he would be going places and did; wanting his name and number, he had that much going for him, his talent was surprising them as much as he surprised me.

His style and ability was the top musicians knew of, as they all sang his praises, saying he was amazing, truly amazing Don Joham; he was a sensitive caring man; a very talented one to see and hear. Wishing him bluebirds this day. In his remembrance.
published 21.09.2005 2005 jazz news :: home page

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