- Nathaniel Friedman
jazz cornetist and composer, was born Donald Eugene Cherry in Oklahoma City. From an early age, music was a part of his life; when the family moved to Los Angeles in the mid-forties, his father worked as a bartender at the Plantation Club, the city's premier jazz club, and his mother played piano around the house.
When Cherry's family arrived in Los Angeles, the city was home to a vital modern jazz scene. Musicians like bassist Charles Mingus, trumpeter Howard McGhee, tenor saxophonists Dexter Gordon and Wardell Gray, and pianist Hampton Hawes quickly absorbed the lessons of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, whose 1946 California jaunt fast became the stuff of bebop lore. A young Cherry gravitated toward jazz, eventually studying at Jefferson High School with Samuel Brown, who had taught Gray and Hawes, among others. Despite his father's protestations, by 1954 Cherry was ...
A version of this article originally appeared in African American National Biography.