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The last surviving member of the original Salt City Five – Don Hunt – died Aug. 5 in Lyons, N.Y. at age 87.
His inspired skills on the trumpet were a major factor in the Salt City Five’s rise to fame,” said former SC5 manager Arnie Koch. The band also featured trombonist Will Alger, clarinetist Jack Maheu, drummer Bob Cousins and pianist Charlie French.
With Hunt on lead horn, the band made a prize-winning appearance in 1952 on CBS-TV’s Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts, one of the highest-rated television shows of the decade. The quintet later performed on Godfrey and His Friends as well as on Godfrey’s CBS radio programs. As a result, the band was booked for a long-term Sunday-afternoon engagement at Childs Paramount, a 700- seat restaurant club in Times Square below the Paramount Theater. There the quintet often shared the bill with some of the most legendary names in jazz, including trumpeters Phil Napoleon and Bobby Hackett. “Hackett was Don’s idol,” Koch said. “At jam sessions at end of sets, Don stood next to him and traded choruses. He was so impressed with Hackett’s improvisations.”
Don was blessed to have lived in an era in which his musical talent (one of many) could be fully appreciated on the local and national scene. He was with the Salt City Five long enough to showcase his trumpet skill at such famous venues as The Meadowbrook, the Persian Terrace, the Latin Quarter, the Stardust and Childs Paramount.
When he left the band to be with his pregnant wife, Margie, few doubted he had his priorities straight. Talk about a long- term investment. His later life demonstrated an amazing set of talent, besides music.
All in all, his life can be summed up with the title of the song he played the lead on to win Godfrey Talent Scouts: “That’s a Plenty.”