07.11. – Happy Birthday !!! Don Mopsick began his musical career as a teenager in his hometown of Linden, NJ, performing on trumpet and bass guitar for local ethnic dances. After High School, he attended Rutgers University and Berklee College of Music. His first professional gigs were with Rosemary Clooney and Ralph Sharon around Boston.
Mopsick’s musical interests have always been eclectic. He was graduated from The Manhattan School of Music in 1977 with a degree in Tuba Performance. While in New York, he performed on tuba and bass with The Smith Street Society, Lee Castle (with the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra), Jim Chapin, John Carisi, Benny Ventura, the Paul Jefferey Octet and others.
After a move to Ft. Myers FL in 1977, Mopsick began private study on double bass with Lucas Drew at the University of Miami. He moved to Orlando in 1983 and began work at Walt Disney World, Circus World, Rosie O’Grady’s, and as a free- lance bassist state-wide. Until 1986 he was a full-time staff musician at Disney World.
During his time in Orlando, Don played concert dates for, among others, The Jazz Club of Sarasota, The Treasure Coast Jazz Society (Vero Beach), The Gainesville Friends of Jazz, the Central Florida Jazz Society, and was a jazz clinician with Willie Thomas at Valdosta (Georgia) State University.
Mopsick played Florida concert dates with Howard Alden, Mousey Alexander, Bill and John Allred, Dan Barrett, John Bunch, Pete Christleib, Al Cohn, Richie Cole, Ike and Fred Cole, Kenny Davern, Buddy DeFranco, Terry Gibbs, Scott Hamilton, Buddy Morrow (with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra), Ken Peplowski, Flip Phillips, Red Rodney, Bob Rosengarden, Ira Sullivan, Clark Terry, Warren Vaché Jr., Joe Wilder and many others.
In 1991 Don joined the 7-piece Jim Cullum Jazz Band in San Antonio TX. He played Monday through Saturday nights at The Landing jazz club and toured with the band through the US and abroad, including a 17-day tour of Russia and Siberia in 2007.
The style of Cullum’s band focused exclusively on pre-WWII classics as played by King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller, Bob Cats, early Duke Ellington, Eddie Condon, etc. In keeping with this aesthetic, at The Landing Mopsick played acoustically (”unplugged”), without the use of a pickup or amplifier for the bass.
During his years in San Antonio Don recorded hundreds of hours for the Riverwalk Jazz public radio series. Some of the guests appearing on the show were Benny Carter, Clark Terry, Bob Wilber, Dick Hyman, Ken Peplowski, Kenny Davern, Milt Hinton, Nicholas Payton, Ralph Sutton, “Sweets” Edison, Shelly Berg, Harry Allen, Dan Barrett, Joe Williams, Stephanie Nakasian, Linda Hopkins, Bob Barnard, Bucky and John Pizzarelli, Vince Giordano, Savion Glover, Bob Haggart, and many others.
Don also worked as an Associate Producer for the radio show, developing show ideas and scripts and creating their first website in 1995.
From 1993 to 2005, along with the other Cullum band members, he was on the faculty of the Stanford Summer Jazz Camp, giving bass master classes and private lessons to students between the ages of 12-17.
Don left the Cullum band in 2009 and relocated back to Florida’s southwest coast in 2010. He currently lives in Cape Coral and works mostly from Tampa to Naples. Since the 2010 move, Mopsick returned to playing mostly modern bop-oriented jazz but still plays the occasional Swing or Dixieland gig. During the tourist season (October to May) he can be heard playing regular weekly gigs at jazz venues and clubs in Collier, Lee, Charlotte and Sarasota Counties for such nationally-known leaders as trumpeter Dan Miller, saxophonist Lew Del Gatto, pianists Billy Marcus, Joe Delaney, guitarist Larry Camp and others.
In recent years Mopsick has appeared with Florida-based artists Dick Hyman and Ira Sullivan, but also plays concert dates with “out-of-towners” like Peter Appleyard, Bucky Pizzarelli, Aaron Weinstein, Giacomo Gates, Stephanie Nakasian and Hod O’Brien (and their daughter Veronica Swift), Russell Malone, Lanie Cook, Ralph Peterson Jr., Tedd Firth, Peter Zak, Dave Bennett, Wycliffe Gordon, Cynthia Sayer and many others.