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Birth of the Bass: Blanton Inspired a Line of Successors

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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 ...

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Unsung Heroes of Jazz Harp

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Saxophones and trumpets are familiar stars of modern jazz, but a few brave souls have utilized unlikely instruments such as accordion (Renzo Ruggieri), bagpipes (Rufus Harley), and bandoneon (Astor Piazzola), as well as the ethereal harp of Dorothy Ashby. In the 1950s, Ashby proved that this classical instrument could also swing. She ...

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Mezz Mezzrow

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Mezz Mezzrow was the hippest of white hipster jazz musicians in 1920s Chicago and 1930s New York. He was a respected player as well as a scenester who hung with both black and white musicians. Mezzrow's autobiography Really the Blues was a real discovery for me. It has a vibe of authenticity I've not found ...