Jimmy Blanton

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Jimmy Blanton (* 5. October 1918 in Chattanooga , Tennessee , † the thirtieth July 1942 in Los Angeles , California ) was an American jazz - double bass player , who in his time in the Duke Ellington band (1939-1941) one of the most influential bassist in jazz history.

Live and act

Jimmy Blanton's mother was a pianist and ran a local band; Originally he learned violin and had the age of eight performances, but moved to the Tennessee State University for bass . He had lessons in music theory from an uncle. During his studies in 1936 and 1937 he played in the university orchestra and in the semester break with Fate Marable in the riverboat orchestra. After graduating, he went to the end of 1937 St. Louis (Missouri) for Jeter-Pillars Orchestra , came to the well recordings.

In late 1939 he joined Duke Ellington's orchestra . Ellington had heard it at Fate Marable's in the Coronado Hotel Ballroom in St. Louis. Blanton's predecessor at Ellington, Billy Taylor , suffered from being demoted to second bassist and left the Ellington Orchestra in resentment in 1940 when the band performed at the Southland Cafe in Boston : “I'm not ready to play here next to a boy who Bass plays so well, I won't be embarrassed. "

Although Blanton only played there for two years, he revolutionized bass playing with fast counter-melodies and thus made the double bass "socially acceptable" as a solo instrument. After him and the equally brilliant Ben Webster , these years of the Ellington Band are also known as the Blanton-Webster Years (compiled as The Blanton-Webster Band ). The Ellington Band's most important recordings with Blanton include Across the Track Blues , Jack the Bear , Ko-Ko , Harlem Air Shaft and Conga Brava . During this time he also recorded several duets with Ellington on piano, such as Plucked Again , Pitter Panther Patter , Mr. JB Blues and Body and Soul . He can also be heard in the recording of the legendary concert in Fargo, North Dakota in 1940 .

“But it wasn't just his solos that demonstrated a fuller, more varied way of playing bass,” wrote Ellington biographer James Lincoln Collier , “he also changed the way the rhythm section worked together . Although he emphasized all four bars for about half the time, he sometimes only played the first and third beats and then only the second and fourth beats . At times he abandoned tact entirely and phrased with the band. He didn't just go up and down the chords , but chose the notes carefully to create musically intelligent connections between the chords. "

In 1941 Blanton was diagnosed with (congenital) tuberculosis ; he had to leave the band (he was followed by Oscar Pettiford ) and died a few months later in 1942, at the age of 23, in a sanatorium in California.

Blanton, whom Percy Heath called the "father of modern bass playing", influenced a generation of subsequent bassists with his playing, including Oscar Pettiford, Red Callender , Ray Brown , Charles Mingus and later Paul Chambers . He was also involved in the musicians' early sessions at Minton's Playhouse ; according to Leonard Feathers , Jimmy Blanton was chosen to belong to the inner circle around Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie .


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ The steamers of the Streckfus Line drove from May to November on the Mississippi from New Orleans to St. Paul in Minnesota .
  2. Joe Viera: Jazz - Music in our time , Verlag Oreos, 1992, page 116
  3. Collier describes the discovery of Blanton as follows: Blanton was playing there when Johnny Hodges came to the club. Hodges ran away again to fetch Strayhorn ; after Strayhorn heard Blanton, they both ran to Ellington's hotel and woke Duke. Ellington came with them to the club, wearing only a coat over his pajamas, and immediately asked Blanton if he wanted to play in his orchestra. Quoted from Collier, p. 295.
  4. Quoted from Collier, p. 297
  5. Quoted from Collier, p. 297. Collier reproduces Lawrence Brown's view that the sound of Blanton's instrument was picked up near the fingerboard instead of below; therefore, the existing recordings did not give a true impression of his sound, which Brown said was similar to Ray Brown's.
  6. Quoted from Kunzler, p. 124.