A master of modern jazz

With the news of the passing of Don Burrows, Australia has lost a giant and pioneer of modern Australian jazz.

Don Burrows playing the flute

Don Burrows, 1996. Photo: Stan d'Argeavel. NFSA title: 776872

More than anyone else, Don Burrows (1928–2020) was the most recognised jazz musician in Australia from the 1960s to the 1980s.

He released almost 40 albums and was a prolific composer and arranger, and a talented multi-instrumentalist (including clarinet, saxophone and flute).

Don was also one of the most internationally acclaimed of Australian jazz musicians, through his performances at the Montreux and Newport jazz festivals.

As well as being a consummate musician and band leader, Don was a skilled and influential educator and mentor to countless Australian jazz musicians.

From radio to records to television, and as head of Jazz Studies at the New South Wales Conservatorium of Music, few musicians touched as many lives as Don Burrows did.

His 1971 album Just the Beginning with the Don Burrows Quartet became the first gold record by a jazz group in Australia.

In 2010, Just the Beginning was inducted into the NFSA's Sounds of Australia registry.

Don Burrows was named an Australian Living Treasure in 1989 and 1999 and was a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) and an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO).

He was also the first jazz artist to be inducted into the ARIA Music Awards Hall of Fame (1991).