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Birth of the Bass: Blanton Inspired a Line of Successors

Dirk Sutro By

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Jimmy Blanton brought jazz bass into the modern era in 1940 with his Ellington recordings including "Pitter Panther Patter" and "Jack the Bear," proving that the big instrument could move through the music like a sleek animal. In the decades that followed, dozens more jazz bassists picked up Blanton's innovative vibe, from beboppers like Tommy Potter to bassist/composer Charles Mingus and more recent master improvisers such as Scott LaFaro and Mark Dresser. But the music speaks louder than words. A collection of great bass hits is as spectacular as a any compilation of saxophone masterpieces.

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