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Pianist/singer/songwriter Don Blackman, born in 1953 in Queens, New York, grew up surrounded by jazz influences; a cousin was McCoy Tyner's friend and saxophonist Charles McPherson -- a Charlie Parker disciple -- was Blackman's neighbor. Blackman played with McPherson's group in 1968 alongside Sam Jones and Louis Hayes when he was 15 years old. He switched to electric piano and toured with Parliament/Funkadelic in the early '70s. He later became an original member of Lenny White's Twennynine ("Peanut Butter"), a key piece in Jamaica Queens' '70s' jazz-funk explosion. A deal with GRP/Arista birthed the solo LP Don Blackman (1982), a good set saddled by poor promotion. His extensive résumé included Kurtis Blow sessions and singing "Haboglabotrin" on Bernard Wright's 'Nard album. A fixture in New York studios, he worked on sessions for a long list of artists including Najee, David Sanborn, and Roy Ayers, and his composition "Live to Kick It" graced 2Pac's R U Still Down? (Remember Me) release. Don Blackman died on April 11, 2013 after battling cancer; he was 59 years old. ~ Andrew Hamilton