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Bob Cranshaw

Discussion in 'Bassists [DB]' started by jazzbassnerd, Feb 3, 2006.

  1. jazzbassnerd


    Aug 26, 2002
    Hey guys-

    For the Jazz Bassist studio class at my school we have to do mini presentations on bass players. This semester we are focusing on lesser know guys, and thus my question.

    Does anyone have information on Bob Cranshaw. All I've found is a terrible bio online with Google. There's about 50 sites and all have the same bio.

    Any help would be great. I'm listening to some albums in the music liberary and he's play with everyone. Sounds good. But I still don't have much info.

    Thanks guys.
  2. bass_means_LOW


    Apr 12, 2004
    Las Vegas
    Does your teacher at Eastman think he is lesser known?
  3. jazzbassnerd


    Aug 26, 2002
    Apparently so. And judging by the fact that he only has one bio online I would agree.

    Are you trying to implicate something?

    I also searched this site and he has never had his own thread. Would you be more pleased with "lesser spoken of." I had never heard of him before (which is not a reason why I would consider him lesser known, I don't know of that many guys).

    Anyway, I'd rather get some info from you if he is not lesser known about what he did, his life and such.


    Sorry about the terrible amount of grammatical errors.
  4. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    Six pages of records on AMG. Including Lee Morgan's Sidewinder, Joe Henderson's Inner Urge and Wes Montgomery's Movin' Wes.

    THAT's a legacy.

    Good luck with your presentation.
  5. jazzbassnerd


    Aug 26, 2002
    Thanks so much for the input.

    I was hoping for some more biographical info if you guys have it or know where it is. I didn't mean to try to diminish the guy by calling him lesser known, I'm just looking for some info that might not come up on AMG or google.

    I went to the library at school and got 7 different albums with him playing. All different decades and players. He had about 190 pages of results on the search system.

    Anyone have some bio stuff?
  6. Brent Nussey

    Brent Nussey

    Jun 27, 2001
    Tokyo, Japan
    Bob Cranshaw has been a huge influence on me, personally. I first learned of him when I was very young, and found a book of his bass lines in a store by Aebersold. The lines seemed very unremarkable to me. Then I heard him play on a few records, and what I noticed was that though his lines seemed simple, what he played always exactly matched what the pianist was doing. Even if the pianist was playing different things each chorus. Now I know that there are many bassists who strive for this kind of “telepathy,” or maybe it should be called “sympathy,” but what he did was astonishing to me. He was so on it, everything he played just fit so seamlessly. I couldn’t believe it, really. I was fortunate to have a chance to ask him about it. He said that he started playing bass because his brother, a pianist, needed a bass player. He didn’t know anything about music, so he just tried to play notes that matched what his brother was doing. So this carried through his career. There’s another bassist who is often discussed here on Talkbass as a great interactive player. Though he’s great, if you listen really closely, you’ll hear that his bass lines are rhythymically very interactive, but sometimes the pianist will be playing a complete reharm of the tune, and he continues to play basically the “stock” changes. I’m not trying to say anything bad about this other guy, but to me, what Cranshaw does is interaction on a much deeper and more subtle level, and it’s what I really want to strive for. So in that way, he’s been a MAJOR influence.

    If he’s not as “well-known” as other guys, it’s not because he’s unrecorded, or underrated by leaders in jazz. He may be underrated by other bass players, because he doesn’t care to solo so much. I once saw him with Milt Jackson, and he took 1 solo per set. I asked him about it. “Don’t you want to solo more?” He said “It’s not that I don’t like to solo, I do, but I just like to play BASS, and I feel great doing that all night long.” Yeah! From a “bass philosophy” point of view, he’s kind of the perfect player. No ego, that I can tell. So he’s played on hundreds of records, but isn’t so much talked about.

    He must be 70 or 75 now. Important records he’s played include Sonny Rollins’ The Bridge, (plus a long association with Sonny Rollins in general) records with Lee Morgan, including the Sidewinder, a couple of Grant Green records (I like Idle Moments), Inner Urge and several great records with Cedar Walton. I mean the list goes on and on, and he plays great, solid, swinging, never flashy bass on all of them. He was one of the players who stayed a long time with gut strings. I read an interview with him in Downbeat, I think, and even after he was already playing electric bass he was talking about preferring gut strings for upright. But nowadays he doesn’t want to hear about gut strings and no amp. He says bassists who do are “afraid of the light bulb” and often played stick basses over the years. But I heard him play his Kay acoustically at Zinno a few times, and he sounded great. With the stick basses, I felt there wasn’t enough attack to the sound, personally.

    Mr. Cranshaw is one of the only bassists in history, along with Monk Montgomery, to make the electric bass really work in jazz. He’s been doing it for a long time, and only got back into playing the upright in the 80’s/90’s because Milt Jackson really pushed him to (as I heard from a 3rd party).

    He also was the bassist you grew up listening to on Sesame Street. Well, maybe you’re too young, I don’t know. I think he stopped doing that some years ago. Also, Cranshaw was the original Saturday Night Live bassist, as well as a busy studio player. I’ll try to see if I can remember some more biographical stuff. I wish I had that old magazine profile around still, but it’s in a box in storage. If your school has old Downbeats and stuff in the library, maybe you can look for it. Still, I think an analysis of his playing would be more important than saying where he was born and all that.

    Good luck,
  7. jazzbass72


    Jun 26, 2003
    New York, NY
    From what I understand, he was forced to switch to the electric bass in the early 70's because of an awful accident (a cab run into him here in NYC, or something like that), that put his back out. He still plays regularly in town, and from what I hear, he has a regular day job at the musicians' union on 48th St and 8th Ave, as jazz advisor for the union or something. If Mr. Fuqua, or any other NYC scene veterans have more accurate info, please share! I haven't run into him yet, but once someone recommended me to him as a sub for a gig. I was busy and I couldn't sub for him, but it was an honor getting a call from Mr. Cranshaw in person. :D

    If I were you, I would just hop on a plane since you're in Rochester, and meet the man in NYC. With Jet Blue, you can probably get a return ticket to JFK for $100 or something. An interview with him in person will get you an A+ for the class, guaranteed.

  8. bass_means_LOW


    Apr 12, 2004
    Las Vegas
    jazzbassnerd, get his ph # and call him.
  9. jazzbassnerd


    Aug 26, 2002
    Thanks you guys for the info. This stuff is really helping, very interesting stuff. I wish I could fly down to the city to meet him, but time constraints (the presentation is this monday) wont allow it, and the class is pretty informal.

    Its been really interesting to listen to him for the past few hours, very hip player. As brent said, not much soloing, but just great bass playing. Really cool to hear someone doing that.

    I love to here more stuff if anyone has it. Thanks guys.
  10. My favorite guy to transcribe, back when I was trying to learn. Perfect clarity, of both intent and execution.

    Biographically, I know nothing, but wasn`t there was a Bass Player profile, maybe late 90`s?
  11. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    You know. Class be damned, take the opportunity to meet these greats before it's too late. even if it's after your presentation.

    The only thing I'll add to his biography, is that his name was mispelled on the cover of The Sidewinder, but not the back. I was always amazed that an editor wouldn't have caught that or at least fixed it in the 2nd pressing.
  12. winston


    May 2, 2000
    Berkeley, CA
    There was a '90's BP interview featuring Bob C. and Tom Barney--I guess Bob was a mentor to him. First time I heard Bob was playing a Yamaha BG with Sonny Rollins in Sonny's "G-Man" film. Great tone and creative lines. IIRC at the gig in the film Sonny got so into the music that he fell off the stage and broke a bone but refused to be treated 'til the gig was over...now THAT's dedication!
  13. edge83


    Apr 12, 2004
    Astoria New York
    man i think tom barney is actually his foster son or stepson, i'm almost positive about this.
  14. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Sorry Marco, I don't really have any more info. Brent's input was great.
    I heard him on electric w/Sonny about 5 years ago at the Bottom Line, he was TCB but (in my own humble opinion) I would have much rather heard him on upright. I get to play every once in awhile with a guitar player that used to work with Sonny, and he says that Sonny prefers electric bass in the band. And if Sonny asked me to play electric, that's what I'd play.
    But I personally don't hear him on BG and think it's killing. He sounds (to me) like a number of other cats from that era who are playing electric in staraight ahead stuff.

    I love his accompaniment, THE BRIDGE is a great record and the solo on WITHOUT A SONG was fun to learn. I love his playing on INNER URGE but I can't really hear what he was going for in his solo on that tune. It's a hard ****ing tune, but I didn't really hear a line.
  15. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    You want to pick a lesser known guy, you oughta check out Sonny Dallas.
  16. jazzbassnerd


    Aug 26, 2002
    Thanks so much guys. It was today. It went real well. They're really quite informal, just a little background info and bring in some tracks with the guy playing on it, and we talk about them a little. I just couldn't find that much info on him online.

    Ed - Sonny Dallas isn't on the list of guys we're doing this semester. I'll try to check him out though. I'm sure they have recordings at the library with him on it. They have so many records it's scary. Any suggestions on records? Says in your profile you've been checking him out lately.

    Thanks again guys.
  17. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    The best record to check him out on is the Lee Konitz MOTION record with Elvin Jones on drums. But he's one of those NYC warriors that played with just about everybody on the scene - clubdates, jazz gigs, records etc.
    The other records you'll fin him on are some of the Lennie Tristano Half Note recordings.
  18. Jeremy Allen

    Jeremy Allen Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2002
    Bloomington, IN
    Bob Cranshaw is one of my favorite bass players, but that bass solo is one of the few I think we can say is unequivocally terrible. I always cringe when I hear it; it just sounds like Mr. Cranshaw wasn't quite prepared to go into the studio that day and play a solo at that tempo over those changes. (Hey, I can relate!)

    But check out the Carmen McRae tribute album to Billie Holiday (I think it's called "Carmen McRae Sings Lover Man etc..."). On that record, Bob is easily the equivalent of Paul Chambers or Ray Brown when it comes to playing swinging lines with a huge sound. And his little soloistic bits on "I'm Gonna Lock My Heart And Throw Away The Key" are just hip.

    He's also on one of the Horace Silver records from the 60s (Cape Verdean Blues, maybe?) and his playing is great.

    Plus, he's the poster boy for what the musician's union used to be able to do for you--I think his pension is something like $6000/month these days?!
  19. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Yes that's right - that's one of my favourite Silver quintet, hard bop albums - not often mentioned, but really exciting - great tunes, that are a little bit different and great arrangements - addding trombone on some tracks to make a sextet!
  20. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Just by the by, I went into Paragon Saturday after my lesson to buy some shoes and guess who I ran into? He seemed to be real surprised that anyone would recognize him, we didn't really get much of a chance to talk (the joint was hopping and if you got a salesperson, you didn't want to let him go).

    He looks like he's in great shape. And FYI, he wears Mephisto's...