Carson, 70, Pianist in Count Basie Orchestra
By BEN RATLIFF
Donald Tecumseh (Tee) Carson, who inherited the piano chair from
Count Basie after the band leader's health failed, died on Feb. 13
at his home in Cedar Park, Tex.
He was 70.
The cause was lung cancer, said Shirley Cason, his sister.
In addition to his career as a jazz musician, Mr. Carson was a United
States marshal working at the Justice Department on surveillance duty.
He retired from the department in 1977.
In the late 1970's, when Count Basie's health problems began, Mr.
Carson started to fill in occasionally as pianist. He was something of
Basie protégé, having a similarly self-editing, bare-bones
When Basie died in 1984, Mr. Carson became the band's pianist, playing
in the posthumous Count Basie Orchestra alongside such jazz luminaries
as the saxophonist Frank Foster and the longtime Basie guitarist Freddie
John S. Wilson, writing in The New York Times about a 1985
performance of the Basie orchestra under the direction of Eric Dixon,
said that Mr. Carson "manages to suggest Mr. Basie's manner without
adopting it, using single-note lines that are a variant of Mr. Basie's
and dropping gentle but propitious chords behind the soloists."
In the late 1980's Mr. Carson recorded with the Basie band as well as
with the saxophonists Frank Wess and Richie Cole.
Born in Washington, Mr. Carson became an electronics engineer at the
Federal Aviation Administration in the early 1950's and joined the Army
in the mid-50's.
Leaving the Washington area in the late 70's, he lived in San Francisco
for a time, where he played jazz and was a jazz disc jockey on WCSM.
In addition to his sister, of Fairfax, Va., Mr. Carson is survived by his
wife, Robin LaStofka Carson; two daughters, Ja Don Carson of Las
Vegas and Jan Hill of Boise, Idaho; a son, Donald, of Austin, Tex.; and