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Discussion in 'Bassists [DB]' started by davechamb, Mar 2, 2005.
Does anybody know where I might find any Jimmy Blanton materials (recordings, photos, biography)?
Duke Ellington - Never No Lament: The Blanton-Webster Band, 1940-1942. (82876-50857-2) Bluebird Records
Its a good 3-Disc set of Ellington during the few years w/ Blanton. Great Stuff.
A search on google turns up 10 pages of links to bio material, recordings, etc.
The Smithsonian archives. You might enjoy the Duke Ellington/Ray Brown duo recording (Pablo) that is dedicated to Mr. J.B. as well. I'm gonna go dig out my old copy now!
Duke Ellington - Solos Duos Trios has all of the Elllington-Blanton duo recordings including alternate takes.
It is pretty amazing what he accomplished especially at a time where there wasn't any amplification. He had his strings jacked way up high and he still managed to have great facility all over the instrument! Absolutely unreal!
Thank God for Jimmy Blanton !
Those are not all of the Blanton/Ellington duos. There are a few others including one called "Blues" (not to be confused with "Mr. J.B. Blues") that were recorded earlier. These are on other Duke Ellington CD's and are harder to find. An great CD to get is the Duke Ellington Centennial Collection which has "Jack the Bear" and other essential studio tracks along with some newly discovered live recordings. Jimmie's solo on "Sepia Panaroma" is worth the cost of the CD. He takes an extended blues chorus during which he slaps the hell out of the bass (the only recording of him playing slap style) and even quotes his famous "Jack The Bear" solo. I was floored when I heard this and I still listen to it all the time. Truly a buried treasure was unearthed when this recording was found. There's also a DVD included with this set that has some footage of the band but none with Blanton. The ISB "Bass World" magazine had a detailed biography on Jimmie Blanton years ago but I can't seem to find that issue. BTW former Duke Ellington bassist John Lamb lives near me (he played on the Far East Suite album and is still a very busy player) and he told me Jimmie's cousin Wendell Marshall (who also played bass for Duke) inherited Jimmie's bass but he doesn't know where it is now. I've often wondered what happened to this historically important instrument.
Steve - I didn't know there were more duets! Can you point me to the cds or lps involved? I love the recordings that I do own.
I checked out Jimmy Blanton bowing Body and Soul with Duke for the first time, and I must say that that is the coolest bowed jazz bass sound I have ever heard (intonation not withstanding). It's so lyrical with an otherworldly animal tone with those gut strings. This is what the bass is supposed to sound like I think. He reminds me alot of the late '20s recording of Koussevitzky. Does anyone know what influences his arco style? I havn't seen any reference of him studying orchestral technique with anybody. Anybody that doubts the bowed sound of gut should listen to this IMHO.
Sorry I took so long to reply. Here's the CD with all the Blanton/Ellington duets. I just bought a copy but there are four more left.
Thanks a lot Steve , only 2 left now
Re Blanton's bass; Chuck Traeger told me he was commisioned by a museum to restore Blanton's bass. He also said it was one of only 2 basses he played or worked on in his life that played "with no resistance". It is somewhere in the Midwest is all I remember.
I just received the CD "Duke Ellington - The Jimmy Blanton era" and I can say with our reservation that this is a must have for any and all jazz bassists. This is really where it all starts (although Bob Haggart, Milt Hinton and Slam Stewart certainly laid out some of the groundwork), and you have to give so much credit to Duke Ellington for recognizing Jimmy's talent and featuring him so prominently. "Plucked Again" and "Blues", the two Ellington/Blanton duets that are not included on the "Solos, Duo's & Trios" CD are worth the price of admission alone, and the parts he plays on the full band cuts are great too. Duke sure wrote a lot of great features for Jimmy (a.k.a. Jimmie) in his arrangements during his brief stay with the band. This is going to be in the CD player for a long time.
After listening to this CD for a while and playing some of his lines from "Pitter Panther Patter" I'm wondering if Jimmy Blanton played those fast eighth-note runs with one finger or two. I know most players in his era used only their index finger (often supported by the middle finger) and in photographs of Blanton his right hand technique looks "old school" but it's awfully hard to execute some of those lines without alternating fingers. I had always understood that alternating two right hand fingers was popularized in the 1950's by bassists such as Scott LaFaro and Red Mitchell, but I wonder if Jimmy Blanton wasn't playing this way a decade earlier. Opinions?
Now only one
I have all the other tracks on the "Solos, Duo's & Trios" CD and an excellent 'Blanton Years' 3-CD compilation "Never No Lament," but I just had to have those extra two duets - out of all the great players I listen to there's only a few that really knock me out every time I hear them, and Jimmy Blanton is one of those (two others are Ray Brown [of course] and Israel Crosby).
I love the way in "Pitter Panther Patter" JB breaks from a syncopated line into a simple walk that just propells the tune forward like a kick in the pants - a great lesson in tension and release...I wish I could get my lines to do that with such effortless simplicity (or at all for that matter).
I'm working through JB's arco part to "Body and Soul." It's deceptively simple, but I still can't play it without eliciting screams of anguish from the kids, wife and neighbors.
Anyway, I'm looking forward to receiving the new addition to my JB collection - thanks Steve,
This is a live recording of "Sepia Panaorma" that was recently discovered and released on the CD/DVD set set "Duke Ellington - The Centennial Collection". This is a great solo and the only known recording of Jimmy Blanton playing slap style. He even quotes his famous "Jack The Bear" riff in double-time. IMO this track alone is worth the cost of the CD which also includes other Blanton performances both live and in the studio. The DVD features some "soundies" from the 1940's but none with Blanton.
As far as I know there is no footage of Blanton performing. His predecesors (Wellman Braud and Hayes Alvis) and replacement (Junior Raglin) were all caught on film but apparently nothing was shot during Jimmy's roughly two-year tenure with the band. In fact, there are only about half a dozen photographs of him that I have seen published and biographical information is limited. Milt Hinton said that he had recordings of Blanton before he joined Ellington and I have read that these exist elsewhere too. I have a book of his solos that was publshed in 1940 that's pretty interesting. I wish someone would do some research and publish a book or article on him with a complete discography. For such an important figure in the development of jazz there's frustratingly little information about him.
There is in fact footage of Blanton playing; I've seen it. It was a few years back in a documentary on Ellington....for the life of me I don't remember what it was called or where I saw it. It was very brief...but if you look for it, you might find it.
Sorry I can't be of more help.