A tribute to Don Edmonds

Volume 124, No. 3March, 2024

Loretta Edmonds

My brother Donald Edmonds, 83, a pianist and a member of Local 802 since 1967, died on Jan. 6, 2024.

Music was his life. Don was born in Philadelphia to a musical family and started to study piano at the age of 5. He attended the Academy of Notre Dame, St. Joseph’s Prep, Northeast Catholic High School and the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music.

He began his professional musical career as a teenager and later studied with Lennie Tristano, Bernard Pfeiffer and John Mehegan.

He played jazz and music of every genre for many years, in New York, Philadelphia, all over the U.S. and Canada, and even in England.

He appeared in concerts at Lincoln Center with the Gotham Jazz Orchestra.

He was featured in numerous TV shows, and he also recorded jingles for Pepsi, Burger King, Campbell’s soup and Schaefer beer.

He was featured in the 1999 movie “Earthly Possessions” starring Susan Sarandon.

He recorded an album called “Philadelphia Reunion” of all-original compositions.

He also appeared on many other albums, including “In a Christmas Mood” with the Starlight Orchestra, the Lew Anderson Big Band album, and “Who Sent Ya,” a jazz album with the Sam Olano Band.

Don traveled around the country and performed with big bands led by Buddy DeFranco, Charlie Ventura, Lew Anderson, Gene Roland, Lester Lanin and Peter Duchin.

When he appeared on the Joe Franklin TV show, he was described as being “an outstanding young American jazz pianist.”

In recent years, Don had been playing with a jazz orchestra at Swing 46 as well as at Arthur’s Tavern and many other top venues around town. As recently as summer of 2023, he played an outdoor jazz concert in Lincoln Towers park.

He spoke French and had a great ear for dialects and regional accents. He particularly loved the French-speaking part of Canada. When he travelled to Quebec, he said that the French Canadian language sounded like it had been frozen in time from the era of 16th century explorer Jacques Cartier.

He loved good food and was a gourmet cook.

Although he had lived in New York for many years, he still loved his hometown of Philadelphia and visited there frequently.

He was a great musician but also a good and kind man with a great intellect and wit. He will be greatly missed by me and all who loved him.

A memorial concert will take place at a later date. For more information, send me an e-mail at

Loretta Edmonds