Don Patterson

Don Patterson (1936-1988) was one of a strong generation of swinging organists who emerged after Jimmy Smith’s initial triumphs. It is a measure of his playing abilities that Sonny Stitt always considered him his favorite organist.

Patterson was originally a pianist influenced by Erroll Garner but, after hearing Smith in 1956, he switched to organ, playing professionally three years later. In addition to Stitt, Patterson worked with Gene Ammons, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Kenny Burrell, Wes Montgomery, and Eric Kloss plus his own duos (often with drummer Billy James) and trios.

After making his debut recording as a leader for Cadet in 1963, Patterson recorded many albums for Prestige during 1964-1969. Four CDs reissue some of his most rewarding dates. Legends of Acid Jazz contains a session that teams Patterson with the passionate tenor saxophonist Booker Ervin while Legends of Acid Jazz: Just Friends has the complete contents of a different date with Ervin and one with the soulful tenor playing of Houston Person.

Boppin’ & Burnin’ is a straight-ahead outing with trumpeter Howard McGhee, altoist Charles McPherson, guitarist Pat Martino, and Billy James that shows off Patterson’s “piano approach” to playing organ on such numbers as “Sandu” and “Red Top.” Dem New York Dues reissues most of the two LPs Funk You and Oh, Happy Day! from 1968-1969, featuring a quintet with trumpeter Virgil Jones and tenors George Coleman and Houston Person, and a set that was the only meeting on record by altoists Sonny Stitt and Charles McPherson.

Don Patterson worked in his later years with trombonist Al Grey before his 1988 death.