Donald S. Doane, an acclaimed trombonist who played with jazz greats such as Duke Ellington and Count Basie and inspired a love of music in generations of students in Scarborough and Westbrook schools, died Wednesday at the Maine Veterans’ Home in Scarborough. He was 84.

“He was the best musician the state of Maine has ever seen,” Tony Boffa, a bandleader and one of Doane’s former students, said Wednesday night. “Don was a combination of high intelligence and unwavering integrity.”

Doane, the leader of the Don Doane Band, toured the world with Woody Herman’s band, and a song called “Maine Bone” was written for him and performed by Doane on Maynard Ferguson’s album, “The New Sounds of Maynard Ferguson.”

When Duke Ellington’s jazz band performed in Portland in 1972, Doane filled in for a sick trombone player, performing with one of America’s most famous big bands.

He also performed with Count Basie, a jazz pianist and bandleader. “I was the only white guy in the band,” Doane told the Portland Press Herald in a 2014 interview. “When I stood up to play, people would say, ‘Who’s that guy?’ ”

In addition to being a professional musician, Doane taught music to hundreds of students in the Scarborough and Westbrook school systems, his son said.


“He was an inspirational educator,” said James O. Doane, who lives in South Portland. “It wasn’t just about music to him. It was teaching kids about his life as a jazz musician.”

Doane started playing trombone in grade school, and played in the high school band in South Portland.

After graduating in 1949, he attended Boston University and majored in music education. He was inducted into the Army after college and honed his musical talents with the U.S. Army Band, his son said.

“He could play every instrument and play it very well,” his son said. “The only instrument he couldn’t play was the harp.”

His band – the Don Doane Band – performed at weddings, graduations and concerts. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, he taught chorus, chorale and music at Scarborough High School.



Later in his career, in the 1970s, Doane began teaching music in Westbrook’s elementary school system, a career that spanned 20 years.

“My father influenced a lot of kids who went onto to pursue careers in music,” his son said.

One of those kids was Boffa, who went on to establish the Tony Boffa Band.

Boffa, who retired last year, said he used to slip out of his house without his parents’ knowledge and hitchhike to the Bridgeway Restaurant in South Portland where Doane held weekly jam sessions with other jazz musicians.

Boffa said Doane allowed young people like himself an opportunity to perform on stage, a tradition he carried on for 30 years.

Bob Greene of South Portland compiles a list of jazz performances for the Greater Portland area. He became friends with Doane after meeting him a few years ago at the Bridgeway Restaurant.


“Don was extremely talented, a giant,” said Greene, who is a former writer with The Associated Press. “All the musicians in southern Maine are descended from Don. If they didn’t take lessons from him, then they probably took lessons from one of his students.”


In 2001, Doane had a stroke that paralyzed his left side. He learned how to play a valve trombone with one hand because he could no longer hold a slide trombone, which requires two hands.

“Don survived a severe stroke, but became a model as he battled this disability and rebounded enough to continue teaching, playing his beloved trombone and inspiring others. He continued playing and practicing music up until his death,” his family wrote in his obituary.

His wife, Barbara C. Doane, died earlier this year.

Visiting hours will be held on Friday from 4-7 p.m. at the Conroy-Tully Crawford chapel, 1024 Broadway, South Portland. Graveside services will be private.


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