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 14 years studying improvisation with Fred Amend. Most of the musicians that Don plays with today he met while studying with Amend (a tenor saxophonist with a beautiful sound and wonderful melodic line and was an exceptional teacher of jazz improvisation). Fred, at that time, was a student of Mosca's. He helped Don understand the concept of an improvised bass line; soloing; accompanying; plus he shared his affinity for the great players of jazz. During those years Don was introduced to the music 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, and his carefully measured words gave Don an even deeper understanding of what an improvised  melodic line could be; the importance 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. Don and Bill have recorded two CDs with pianist Sal Mosca (as a trio and as a quartet with Jimmy Halperin), two CDs with the Kazzrie Jaxen Quartet, Rick Moore Trio and Quartet, two trio releases with pianist Jon Easton, Ted Brown Quartet, and the Jimmy Halperin Trio.

The Bluth Messina Chattin Trio recorded three CDs for Zinnia Records. Their recordings have been 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 has recorded for Blue Jack Jazz, Zinnia, Cadence, Flying Fish, New Artists, and other independent labels with Rick Moore, Ron Naldi, D. W. Griffiths, Vassar Clemens and others. 

Besides being part of The Kazzrie Jaxen Trio and Quartet, Don sessions and/or performs with Jimmy Halperin, Jon Easton, Peter Prisco, Ted Brown, Rick Moore, Chris Aiello, Charley Krachy, Will Jhun, Skip Scott, and others. Don has performed with Phil Woods, Stanley Turrentine, Joris Roelsof, and Vassar Clemens. He has recorded for Blue Jack Jazz, Cadence, Zinnia, Flying Fish, and other independent labels.

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

In partnership with the Mosca family, Don produced two Sal Mosca CD collections in 2015 (solo piano concerts). One is a double CD on Sunnyside Records from 1992; the other a five-CD set from 1981 on Cadence Jazz Records, both were recorded in the Netherlands. 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 has a deep love for the bass playing of Oscar Pettiford, Jimmy Blanton, Vinnie Burke, Walter Page, 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

CD RELEASE - 8/2014

Quaternity -New Artists Records

Kazzrie Jaxen Group - Facebook

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