An extremely popular player in the '50s, Don Elliott was a fine soloist in the swing mode. Born in Sommerville, New Jersey, on October 21, 1926, Elliott first studied piano and accordion, then played baritone horn and mellophone in his high school band. He switched to trumpet while playing in local dance bands, and as a teen worked with fellow teen Bill Evans.
Elliott studied harmony at the Institute of Musical Art in New York in the mid-'40s, then played trumpet in an army band. Following that, he studied arranging and vibes at the University of Miami in 1947. When he returned to New York, Elliott played with George Shearing, Teddy Wilson, and Benny Goodman. He later performed and recorded with Terry Gibbs and Buddy Rich before forming his own band.
Elliott took "miscellaneous instrument" honors in Down Beat five straight years in the late '50s. During the '60s and '70s, he did...