Don Rader Day

October 21, 1935 – April 18, 2023

A tribute to the trumpeter and educator

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Trumpeter Don Rader passed away on April 18, 2023, at the age of 87.

He was born on Oct. 21, 1935, in Rochester, Pennsylvania where he began playing trumpet when he was five.

After college and serving in the Navy, Rader was a member of the Woody Herman Orchestra during 1959-61, also contributing some arrangements including during a second stint with Herman in 1965 and for the orchestras of Charlie Barnet and Buddy Rich.

He performed with many other big bands including Maynard Ferguson (1961-63), Count Basie (1963-64), Louie Bellson, Harry James, Terry Gibbs, Les Brown (1967-72), Stan Kenton, Toshiko Akiyoshi, and the Stan Kenton Alumni Band.

An excellent bop-based soloist who was an asset to many orchestras (backing up major acts including Jerry Lewis and Bob Hope), Rader was based in Los Angeles in the 1970s where he often headed combos in clubs.

After that period, Rader became an important educator, living and working in Australia for many years.

He was heard at his best on the seven combo albums that he led.

Don Rader is featured on his original “Anemone” in 1980, playing flugelhorn in a quartet with guitarist Ron Eschete, bassist Kevin Brandon, and drummer John Perett.

-Scott Yanow


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