Donovan Mixon runs the Jazz Play Studio component of Space 900.
His career as composer began during his years on the faculty at Berklee College of Music in Boston where he made the acquaintance of Earl Stewart. Stewart, after studying the score for Culmination, Donovan’s composition for chamber orchestra and jazz rhythm section, scheduled it to be performed in 1988 by the Boston Orchestra and Chorale, the organization for which he was conductor at the time. However, the formal launch of Mr. Mixon’s composing career was when he won an NEA for jazz composition the following year. Five years later, he moved to Europe for professional and artistic development.
The move abroad turned out to be a seventeen year sojourn living as an expatriate, seven in Italy, the last ten in Istanbul where he worked as a freelance performing artist and college professor (D.A.M.S Bologna), presenting at jazz festivals (Umbria Jazz, Monticello Jazz Festivial, Jazz In It) and educational institutions (Bilgi University: Istanbul, C.E.U.: Budapest, Shanghai American School: China) throughout the world.
His first recording, Look Ma, No Hands!, released in Italy was an American recording in collaboration with Boston jazz masters George Garzone: tenor, Frank Wilkins: piano, Brian McCree: bass and Alvin Terry: drums. However, the cd was ultimately promoted and toured by his Italian quartet (Bruno Ceselli: piano, Enzo Zirilli: drums and Dario Deidda: bass, who along with trumpeter Eddie Henderson as special guest, make up the personnel on Language of the Emotions (1996) his second release on Philology Records. In 1993, also for Philology, he recorded Free With Lee with the legendary saxophonist Lee Konitz. Later in Istanbul his ‘World Jazz’ group, Hybrid Project recorded Culmination, his 2010 release that landed upon jazzchicago.net’s list of Top Chicago Jazz Recordings of 2010.