“He was amazing. Duke Ellington’s band came through St. Louis and played a dance—back then it was dances and not concerts. Afterward Duke went back to the hotel to sleep, and all the musicians went to an after-hours session. This young bass player was playing, and these guys flipped out. They went back and woke up Duke Ellington, and brought him to the session. Duke hired Jimmy on the spot, and the band left St. Louis with two bass players. Jimmy Blanton made all those records in 1940 and ’41, and then he got what they called “consumption” back then, tuberculosis. He got very sick in L.A. and they had to leave him in a sanitarium. He had no family there; he was by himself in a little isolated cabin. Milt Hinton told me he went there every day to see him. Milt was playing in Cab Calloway’s band at that time, and every night they’d dedicate a song to him. Milt said he was there when Jimmy took his last breath. He was 23 years old. But if you’ve ever heard him play … man!”
All about the Double Bass
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Jazz Musician of the Day