Bassist Dwayne Burno Dies at 43
Bassist Dwayne Burno died Dec. 28 in New York following a long battle with kidney disease. He was 43.
Born June 10, 1970, in Philadelphia, where his mother was a pianist and choral director, Burno began playing double bass at 16 and entered Berklee College of Music two years later. His first professional gigs included work with saxophonists Donald Harrison and Jesse Davis, and by 1990, upon moving to New York, Burno was being called on by major names in jazz, beginning with singer Betty Carter, whose band he joined.
The extensive list of artists with whom Burno played throughout his career includes Herbie Hancock, Wynton Marsalis, Joe Chambers, Benny Golson, Clifford Jordan, George Colligan, Joe Henderson, Wallace Roney, Jeremy Pelt, Roy Haynes, Bobby Hutcherson, Harold Mabern, Dr. John, Mulgrew Miller, Freddie Hubbard, Steve Turre, Roy Hargrove, Cedar Walton, Abbey Lincoln, David Murray, Digable Planets, Brian Lynch, David Weiss, Chucho Valdés, Greg Osby, Nicholas Payton, Eric Reed, Luis Perdomo, Orrin Evans, Don Braden and others.
Burno appeared on more than 50 recordings and also led his own Dwayne Burno Quintet, which performed at New York’s Smalls and other venues.
On Dec. 25–26, Burno played at Smalls with Peter Bernstein, Steve Nelson and Billy Drummond in what were to be his final performances.
Smalls owner Spike Willner, a jazz pianist, wrote in the club’s Dec. 30 newsletter: “Dwayne struggled with his health in recent years. He had issues with his kidneys, but what did him in was his heart. Dwayne spent the last two weeks in the hospital with pneumonia. Amazingly, he played at Smalls with Peter Bernstein’s group on Wednesday and Thursday of this week—right after being released; he wouldn’t think about missing the gig. Peter invited me to sit in with the group for the last tune of the night on Thursday, and the feel of the band was incredible. With Billy Drummond and Steve Nelson, this was a mature band. It was swinging hard. As I comped from the piano, I looked at him and saw Dwayne’s familiar face and smile—he knew it felt good. Nobody could lay down a groove like Dwayne Burno. After the show on Thursday, we sat together outside of the club and talked about his health. He mentioned his concerns about his heart. There’s no way I could have known that it would be the last time I would ever see him. Stunning.”
Burno is survived by his wife, Wendy; a son, Quinn; and brothers Derrick Burno, Jeffrey Bundy and Charlton Burno.
Donations can be made through the Jazz Foundation of America, which has been helping Burno’s family since the illness first began to take its toll in 2004. Click here to make a donation online, or mail a check in honor of Dwayne Burno to Jazz Foundation of America, 322 W. 48th St., 6th Floor, New York, NY 10036. The organization’s phone number is (212) 245-3999.