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Paul Chambers basses and bows

Discussion in 'Bassists [DB]' started by Rob Palmer, Jan 23, 2006.

  1. Rob Palmer

    Rob Palmer

    Aug 29, 2005
    Suffolk, UK
    OK guys, I need your help.:help: :bassist:

    I am writing a biography on Paul Chambers and have made considerable progress in accessing details about his life. What I cannot find, however, is any information about the whereabouts of his basses or bows. Can anyone help? Iam particulalry interested in the so called 'ladies head' bass that appears in photsgraphs throughout his career but anyinfo would be helpul. Even if the info is incomplete please let me have it anyway as I can often make links that are not obvious.

    Be safe

  2. basstef

    basstef Supporting Member

    Dec 18, 2004
    Bologna, Italy
    I heard a story from a friend of mine here in Italy, great international piano player Dado Moroni : he told me that bass was stolen by PC and Doug Watkins from an unattended car...the bass belonged to a symphony player. The bass was somehow shared between PC and Doug Watkins (I guess they were cousins). One night the owner of the bass walked into a jazz club in NYC and saw his instrument in the hands of PC...After the show he introduced himself to PC and, with great surprise, he left the bass to him, saying he had never heard any better stuff coming out of his bass...
    It's probably not true of course, but it' s funny to think it might be, for a minute...
    good luck with your search.
  3. I've heard from a fairly reliable source that Chambers' bass (whether or not its the maidenhead :eek: bass, I don't know) is in the possession of Richard Davis in at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

    Might be a red herring, but it would be fun to ask RD about it.
  4. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    There is a guy up north that owns one of PC's basses. I'll dig around and see if i can find him.
  5. Rob Palmer

    Rob Palmer

    Aug 29, 2005
    Suffolk, UK
    :spit: The rumour about Richard Davis having PC's bass is a myth. RD told me that he never owned PC's bass although he did hold Blanton's bass for a while.

  6. bass_means_LOW


    Apr 12, 2004
    Las Vegas
    Basstef; Do you know Silvano Borzachiello, a drummer friend of mine who drums for Dado?
    Rob; I heard a similar story from Frank Tusa, (Lookout Farm).
    Frank lives in the Bay Area, California. You might want to sound him out about it.
  7. basstef

    basstef Supporting Member

    Dec 18, 2004
    Bologna, Italy

    Hi. No, I don't know this guy...
  8. The story does sound too good to be true, I think you are wise to be sceptical. I can't see even the most generous player giving up on an instrument that probably cost him a pretty good chunk of change, especially since it was stolen from him. Concerning the instrument, I have a picture of Paul dated Hollywood 1955 playing what I think is the bass. The very top of the scroll is cut off, but you can see the G string tuner and part of the D. When you look at it and compare it to pictures where you can see everything, it appears that it is probably the same instrument. The picture comes from a collection of photographs taken by William Claxton. Hopefully that will help you with a timeline, since Paul was supposed to have moved to New York in 1954. The Mosaic Select Paul Chambers CD box set also has some nice pictures of that particular bass. I have seen several photos of Doug Watkins (who was Paul's cousin), and I have don't recall ever seeing him playing that bass. In case you haven't come across this information, Miles Davis mentions in his autobiography that while Paul was in his group, he lived with Chan Parker, Charlie Parker's widow. I wonder if there is any way any family members of Chan's could be reached to see if they could shed any light on what happened to the bass?
  9. Brent Nussey

    Brent Nussey

    Jun 27, 2001
    Tokyo, Japan
    There's actually a really good picture of PC with this bass on the cover of Byrd's Word, released on Savoy in 1955. PC looks about 16 years old (though he must have been 19 or 20). ...and his style is already basically fully mature. It's the earliest picture I've ever seen of PC, and I read that he was still studying at Cass Tech as late as 1955. I've also never seen Doug Watkins playing that bass. As long as we're throwing around rumours, the one that I heard was that the bass was left at Philly Joe Jones' when PC died, and Philly Joe sold it to get money for his habit. Nobody seems to know who it was sold to. The only thing about this is, you'd think it would turn up. Maybe someday...

    Also, PC had 2 basses, at least for a time. What I heard was that the other one was a plywood bass. You can hear on some of the Red Garland records, for example, he has a slightly different sound. Maybe just the recording, but I think it's this other bass.

    Bows, I have no idea. I think that would be much harder to trace.

  10. dylanjohnson

    dylanjohnson Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2002
    Morro Bay, CA
    I've seen a picture from the mid-late sixties that look like PC is playing on a Kay or a King bass. It is just the upper bout so I dont know which.
  11. i believe that chan passed away during 1999, but phil woods was married to her for a while
  12. Rob Palmer

    Rob Palmer

    Aug 29, 2005
    Suffolk, UK
    Paul lived with Doris Syndor, Bird's estranged wife, not Chan Parker. Thanks anyway.
  13. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Everybody seen this?
  14. mrpc

    mrpc Guest

    Feb 7, 2005
    Yup, great arco and pizz solo's, and dig M.R. P.C.'s smile!
  15. jazzbass72


    Jun 26, 2003
    New York, NY
    Pierre Chambers, a jazz singer and Paul's son, is alive and well in Los Angeles and has a MySpace page he can be contacted at.

  16. mrpc

    mrpc Guest

    Feb 7, 2005
    Which raises the question, how many children did Paul Chambers father? Some things may be better left alone. Curiosity killed the cat, after all.

    For intance, isn't Domenic Dragonetti's bass stashed in a glass case somewhere, next to some medieval weapons, like some lost speciman related to a freak of nature? A bug in a jar. That's the story I've heard, anyway.

    I'd rather think that P.C.'s bass is out somewhere being played very well, or retired to the wishes of his Will, if he had one. I guess there are plenty of reasons to try a locate it, if it will benefit his next of kin.

    OTOH, searching out and contacting his family members might be the best thing that ever happened for Paul Chamber's legacy.

    Good luck in your quest for info Rob! And Merry Christmas.
  17. Jeremy Allen

    Jeremy Allen Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2002
    Bloomington, IN
    Dragonetti's bass is in the collection of the museum at San Marco, the big church in Venice (kind of like saying the Grand Canyon is the big hole in Arizona). The bass is extremely rare both because if its origin and its ownership (I forget the maker--Da Salo? Amati?), but it's not exactly hidden away. They take it out once a year and let some virtuoso give it a whirl in a public concert (without changing the ancient set of gut strings, I gather from the photo I saw). I'm not sure when the museum acquired it (or re-acquired it--supposedly, it was a gift to Dragonetti from one of the big churches in Venice to begin with), but it was being played by amateurs in Britain until at least 1940 (when there was an article in the Musical Times about the constant reappearance of the bass at church performances of the St. Matthew Passion).

    I don't know what this has to do with PC. Except that both he and Dragonetti played underhand grip (as I now know from that video clip)!
  18. mrpc

    mrpc Guest

    Feb 7, 2005
    I think that it would be a shame if Paul Chambers bass (if the real one ever surfaces) ended up the same way as Dragonetti's. Thus, the comparison.

    BTW, I remember reading long ago that the bass was trashed when Paul wrecked a car. Something about alchohol and drugs. Don't know if that's true.
  19. Jeremy Allen

    Jeremy Allen Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2002
    Bloomington, IN
    Oops--I meant I didn't know what my post had to do with PC's bass, not that I didn't know what your post had to do with it.

    I know it's terribly morbid, but every time another great bassist dies (and it seems like we've lost many recently) I sooner or later think "I wonder what's happening with their bass?" Not that I want the instruments, like an apartment hunter in Manhattan scanning the obituaries, but I hate to think of these great basses sitting in a corner for years and years.
  20. mrpc

    mrpc Guest

    Feb 7, 2005
    It's a funny thing with instruments after players pass. You never know what might turn up when or where with whoever........