Carr Center
311 East Grand River
Detroit, Michigan
313-965-8430 Ext. 23

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Donald Washington

Donald Washington, Sr. (1930 – 1 December 2009) was an American jazz tenor saxophonist. Washington was born in West Philadelphia and raised in Southwest Philadelphia. 


In 1948, he graduated from Murrell Dobbins Career and Technical Education High School, where he excelled in both swimming and basketball. From 1965 through 1990, he worked for Food Fair Services as a warehouse attendant. While there, he won trophies and awards on the company's amateur boxing team. But jazz was always his life and his passion. He studied at private and public institutions, starting to play the saxophone as an elder statesman on Philadelphia's jazz scene since the late 1960s to the mid-1980s.

As a leader, Washington founded the Marlboro Men, a group that toured Haiti,Jamaica and the Virgin Islands. He also performed with Donald ByrdJerry Butler,Nat King ColeSammy Davis, Jr.B.B. KingDiana RossNeil Sedaka and Horace Silver.

When not traveling, Washington jammed regularly in Saturday Nights at Natalie's Lounge in West Philadelphia. Among his students were Grover Washington, Jr.and George Howard. He was married twice and had nine children from his first marriage.

Washington died on December 1, 2009 in Haddon Heights, New Jersey at the age of 79, following complications from lung cancer.

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