One of the premier bassists in jazz history, Paul Chambers had it all: a beautiful tone, a fluid technique, a great choice of notes, impeccable time and a magnificent sense of swing. He could even take a bowed solo and keep it interesting and in tune.
Paul Chambers was born in Pittsburgh in 1935, and grew up in Detroit, where he became part of the city's growing jazz scene. He moved to New York, where he played in the J.J. Johnson-Kai Winding quintet. He joined Miles Davis' first legendary quintet along with John Coltrane, Philly Joe Jones, and Red Garland, at the age of 20. As the bass player, he complimented Jones perfectly on fast songs and played just well on ballads. He spent the bulk of his prime years (1955-1963) as a member of the Miles Davis Quintet, participating in virtually all of Davis' classic recordings of the era. After leaving Davis' group, he continued working with the pianist who replaced Garland in Davis' group, Wynton Kelly, and he did freelance work in New York.
Paul was about 15 when he started to listen to Bird and Bud, his first jazz influences. Oscar Pettiford and Ray Brown, the first bassists he admired, were followed in his book by Percy Heath, Milt Hinton and Wendell Marshall for their rhythm section work, Charles Mingus and George Duvivier for their technical powers and for their efforts in broadening the scope of jazz bass. Blanton, of course, is his all-time favorite, the perennial poll winner in his ballot.