read and leave personal comments about Don ButterfieldDon Butterfield, a tuba player whose virtuosity helped to popularize the use of his instrument in jazz, died on Monday in Cedar Grove, N.J. He was 83 and lived in Clifton.

The cause was a stroke-related illness, said his stepson, Brian Nalepka.

A classically trained tubist, Mr. Butterfield first made his mark in jazz on a Clark Terry album, “Top and Bottom Brass,” in 1959. He went on to play with Charles Mingus on several albums, including “The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady,” and with Dizzy Gillespie. He also toured with Frank Sinatra in the late 1980s.

In addition to his jazz work, he was a principal tubist with the Radio City Music Hall orchestra and performed under symphonic conductors, including Arturo Toscanini, Dmitri Mitropoulos and Leonard Bernstein.

In 1970, the classical composer Charles Wuorinen wrote his “Chamber Concerto for Tuba,” a piece that required a soloist with extreme dexterity, for Mr. Butterfield.

The son of a lumberjack, Don Keithley Butterfield was born in Centralia, Wash., and was expected to follow in his father’s footsteps.

He began playing the tuba in high school. He went to the South Pacific during World War II as a member of the Army Air Corps and, upon his return, attended community college to study music. He later dropped out and hitchhiked to New York City to pursue a career as a tubist, studying under William Bell and attending the Juilliard School of Music. He left Juilliard in his senior year because he was already working all around town.

In addition to his stepson, Mr. Butterfield is survived by his wife, Alice Nalepka Butterfield; 5 children: Warren of Wyckoff, N.J., Jay of Chicago, Laura Peters of Tom s River, N.J., Donna Cunnigham of Burbank, Calif., and Bruce Nalepka of Randolph, N.J.; and 11 grandchildren.


Materials are taken from N.Y. Times: December 3, 2006