Jimmy Blanton
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1918-10-05
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Jimmy Blanton Jimmy Blanton Jimmy Blanton Jimmy Blanton

Biography

Jimmie Blanton (October 5, 1918 – July 30, 1942) was an influential American jazz double bassist. Blanton is credited with being the originator of more complex pizzicato and arco bass solos in a jazz context than previous bassists. Born in Chattanooga, ...

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Biography

Jimmie Blanton (October 5, 1918 – July 30, 1942) was an influential American jazz double bassist. Blanton is credited with being the originator of more complex pizzicato and arco bass solos in a jazz context than previous bassists.

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Biography

Jimmie Blanton (October 5, 1918 – July 30, 1942) was an influential American jazz double bassist. Blanton is credited with being the originator of more complex pizzicato and arco bass solos in a jazz context than previous bassists.

Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Blanton originally learned to play the violin, but took up the bass while at Tennessee State University, performing with the Tennessee State Collegians from 1936 to 1937, and during the vacations with Fate Marable. After leaving university to play full-time in St Louis with the Jeter-Pillars Orchestra (with whom he made his first recordings), he joined Duke Ellington's band in 1939.

Though he stayed with Ellington for only two years, Blanton made an incalculable contribution in changing the way the double bass was used in jazz. Previously the double bass was rarely used to play anything but quarter notes in ensemble or solos but by soloing on the bass more in a 'horn like' fashion, Blanton began sliding into eighth- and sixteenth-note runs, introducing melodic and harmonic ideas that were totally new to jazz bass playing. His virtuosity put him in a different class from his predecessors, making him the first true master of the jazz bass and demonstrating the instrument's unsuspected potential as a solo instrument. Such was his importance to Ellington's band at the time, together with the tenor saxophonist Ben Webster, that it became known as the Blanton–Webster band. Blanton also recorded a series of bass and piano duets with Ellington.

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