I heard a Duke Ellington recording recently and was struck by how sweet the bass sounded. Turns out it was probably Jimmy Blanton laying it down. Does anyone know what uprights he used during that period with Ellington's band? Since he is such a renowned player it's probably common knowledge, but I can't seem to find it.
Ellington was a stickler for good sound, I've heard records of his from the 20's that sound better than other big bands recorded 30 years later. When recording a large ensemble with one microphone I guess you want the bass nice and close!
The bass that Jimmy Blanton is pictured with looked like a typical German factory bass. It's definitely not a Kay. Here's a thread about the current whereabouts of this bass. The story goes that he bought it after Duke hired him because his previous bass was an unconverted three-stringer.