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Remembering Don Shirley

I was watching the Grammies this evening. More listening than watching, really. And I happened to look up toward the end. They were scrolling the In Memoriam list and I was deeply saddened to see that pianist and composer Don Shirley had died. Somehow I’d missed the news of his death last April. The New York Times story reminded me what a talented man he was.

The Don Shirley Trio was one of my favorite groups when I was in college, even though I’d never been a great fan of jazz. Their song “Water Boy” was big on the charts (1965) and it was a stroke of luck that they included the University of Oklahoma on their tour. The student union auditorium was the perfect intimate setting for their unique music (acoustic in those days). Prior to the concert, “Water Boy” was the only song of theirs that I had heard. Afterwards, I bought every album they’d recorded.


Donald Walbridge Shirley

January 29, 1927 – April 6, 2013


    • This song happened to be their big hit that made it onto the pop charts, much like Brubeck’s “Take Five.” There’s a lot of variation in their work. Perhaps a more recognizable melody:

"Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it." ~ Mark Twain

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