DON MESSINA met Lennie Tristano in 1973. Since then he has been a devoted student and fan of Lennie’s music, as well as the beautiful music of Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Billie Holiday, Sal Mosca, Bud Powell, Fats Navarro, Warne Marsh, Lee Konitz, Oscar Pettiford, Jimmy Blanton, Charlie Christian, and Kenny Clarke. He spent fourteen years studying jazz and improvisation (on the double bass) with tenor saxophonist Fred Amend. Most of the musicians that Don plays with today he met while studying with Fred. Amend, at that time, was a student of Mosca's. He helped Don understand the concept of an improvised bass line when either soloing or accompanying; plus he shared his own affinity for the great players of jazz. During those years of studying Don was introduced to the playing of Sal Mosca. Listening to Sal, (and then eventually sessioning and performing with Mosca) changed every aspect of Don's appreciation for music. Sal's music and teaching, as well as his carefully measured words gave Don an even deeper understanding of what an improvised melodic line could and should be; the importance and necessity of steady time and swing; and how to use the colorful palette of harmony to develop and become your own player.

Don has been part of many rhythm sections with Bill Chattin (drums). Don and Bill have been playing together since the mid-1980s and spent over 20 years as part of the Bluth Messina Chattin Trio. This trio recorded three CDs for Zinnia Records. Their recordings were awarded four-stars by Chris Albertson in Stereo Review; selected as “one of the best Jazz CDs of 1999” by Bob Blumenthal of the Boston Globe; received the 2000 IAJE Blue Chip Award for Outstanding Jazz Recording by Herb Wong; and given 4-1/2 stars by the All-Music Guide.

Don and Bill have two CDs with pianist Sal Mosca, as a trio and and a quartet (with Jimmy Halperin), two CDs each with the Kazzrie Jaxen QuartetRick Moore Trio/Quartet, Jon Easton Trio, Ron Naldi Quartet, and single CDs with the Ted Brown Quartet, and the Jimmy Halperin Trio.

Don has also recorded with Vassar Clemens, D. W. Griffiths, Dino Arthur, and Jim Ransom.


Besides being part of the Kazzrie Jaxen Group, Don sessions and/or performs with Jimmy Halperin, Jon Easton, Peter Prisco, Ted Brown, Rick Moore, Chris Aiello, Will Jhun, Nick Lyons, Charley Kracky, and others. Don has performed with Phil Woods, Stanley Turrentine, Joris Roelsof, Vassar Clemens Group, Mike Scap, Josh Breakstone, and theLew London Trio. 

Don is waiting the release of live recordings with the Jimmy Halperin and the Kazzrie Jaxen Trios, duets with Peter Prisco and Chris Aiello.

In partnership with the Sal Mosca family, Don produced three Mosca CD collections (2008 and 2015). The 2008 is a quartet session from 2005 on Blue Jack Jazz;  in 2015 a double CD was released on Sunnyside Records from 1992; the other a five-CD set from 1981 on Cadence Jazz Records. Messina is the executor of the Sal Mosca's Archives residing at Rutgers University's Institute of Jazz Studies, Newark, NJ.

Don considers both Sal Mosca and Lennie Tristano as jazz mentors. He also has a deep love for the bass playing of Oscar Pettiford, Jimmy Blanton, Vinnie Burke, Scott LaFaro, Sonny Dallas, Red Mitchell, Niels Henning Orsted Pedersen, Ray Brown, Paul Chambers, Lou Stelluti, and Dave Holland.




  • 04/22/2018
    Ossining Public Library - Ossining, New York
  • 04/14/2019
    Ft Lee Public Library - Ft. Lee, New Jersey


Quaternity-New Artists Records


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Don Messina, Dedicated To,
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