Bob Cranshaw was born Melbourne R. Cranshaw on December 10, 1932 in Evanston, Illinois and started on drums and piano before switching to the tuba and bass in high school. He was a founding member of Walter Perkins’ MJT +3 band in 1957 and it was Perkins who recommended Bob to Sonny Rollins as a replacement bassist for a gig at the first Playboy Jazz Festival in Chicago in 1959.
His long association with Rollins has spanned over five decades with their first recording of the album The Bridge in 1962. From the heyday of Blue Note Records to the present, though never a leader, Cranshaw has a long list of accolades performing and recording with such giants as Lee Morgan, Ella Fitzgerald, Dexter Gordon, Duke Pearson, Grant Green, Coleman Hawkins, Jimmy Heath, Joe Henderson, Shirley Scott, Horace Silver, Wayne Shorter, Hank Mobley, Wes Montgomery, Thelonious Monk, Oscar Peterson and the list goes on and on.
One of the early jazz bassists to trade his upright bass for an electric bass, Bob was criticized for this by jazz purists, who either never knew or cared that he was forced to switch due to a back injury incurred in a serious auto accident. Never stopping, he served as the sole session bassist for Sesame Street and The Electric Company and played on all songs, tracks, buttons and cue recorded by The Children’s Television Workshop under the tenure of songwriter and composer Joe Raposo.
Cranshaw has performed on Broadway, on hundreds of television shows such as the David Frost Show band under Dr. Billy Taylor and the original 70s Saturday Night Live, has worked on film and television scores, and appeared on The Blue Note Story documentary of the famous label. He has also recorded for Vee Jay, Prestige and other labels throughout his career as a sought after sideman. He remains an active performer and member of the New York Musicians Union.
More Posts: bass
Benny Moten was born on November 30, 1916. A solid and supportive bassist, he had a long career as a sideman for decades. He began seriously playing professionally in 1941 and quickly developed relationships with top players of the time.
Over the course of his career Benny played and recorded with such artists as Hot Lips Page, Henry “Red” Allen, Stuff Smith, Arnett Cobb, Ella Fitzgerald, Wilbur DeParis, Roy Eldridge and Dakota Staton, just to name a few. He toured Africa from 1956 – 1957.
Bassist Benny Moten, often confused or mistaken for pianist and bandleader Bennie Moten, was never a leader however he remained musically active as a sideman until the time of his death at the age of 60 on March 27, 1977.
More Posts: bass
Ray Drummond was born on November 23, 1946 in Brookline, Massachusetts to an Army colonel and through his childhood attended 14 schools around the world. He played trumpet and French horn from the age of eight, then a high-school music teacher encouraged him to switch to the bass.
Briefly settling in northern California he matriculated through Claremont Men’s College and went on to Stanford Business School where he got his Masters in business administration. During those San Francisco years he played with Bobby Hutcherson, Michael White, Ed Kelly, Tom Harrell and Lester Young’s niece, Martha Young.
Moving to New York in 1977, Drummond worked as a session bass player for Betty Carter, the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, Wynton Marsalis, Woody Shaw, Hank Jones, Jon Faddis, Milt Jackson, Johnny Griffin, Kenny Barron, Pharoah Sanders and George Coleman.
In addition to working as a sideman and leading his own bands, Ray is an educator and has taught at the Monterey Peninsula College of Music and the California State University and has conducted master classes at Berklee College of Music, Purdue University, the University of Massachusetts and the Sibelius Academy of Music in Helsinki, Finland.
Bassist Ray Drummond continues to co-lead The Drummonds with Renee Rosnes while recording as a sideman and can be heard on more than three hundred albums with the likes of Kevin Mahogany, Toots Thielemans, David Murray and Benny Golson to name a few.
More Posts: bass
Roland Guerin was born on November 15, 1968 into a musical family, first learning music from his bass playing mother. Her sage wisdom taught him that you can’t make it in music without a strong groove and feeling.
While studying marketing at Southern University in Baton Rouge he joined legendary jazz educator Alvin Batiste’s band, The Jazztronauts. Following this stint he toured the world with jazz guitarist Mark Whitfield and during this period he further explored the jazz genre in which he found success.
While exploring his spiritual side, Guerin created a new instrument – a hollow-bodied acoustic six string bass guitar that enabled him to write music for an entire spectrum of genres including pop, rock, R&B, classical, folk, and country.
Roland made his debut as a bandleader in 1998 with his acclaimed “The Winds of the New Land”, and then released four successful albums in the next decade. From 1994 to 2010 Roland was a member of the Marcus Roberts Trio, also regularly enhanced by symphony orchestras.
He would go on to perform with George Benson, Jimmy Scott, Frank Morgan, Vernel Fournier, Gerry Mulligan, Brian Blade, John Scofield, Herlin Riley and Dr. Michael White while recording with Ellis Marsalis, Marcus Roberts, and Allen Toussaint among others.
When he is not touring around the world, Roland is very active on the New Orleans music scene, and has released his last album “A Different World” in 2011.
Wendell Marshall was born into a musical family on October 24, 1920 in St. Louis, Missouri. He took up the bass in emulation of and receiving his first lessons from his cousin Jimmy Blanton. He began playing professionally around his hometown in the late ‘30s and played with Lionel Hampton in ’42. Graduating from Lincoln University, he then served in the Army during World War II.
After his discharge, Marshall played and recorded with Stuff Smith, relocated to New York City and played with Mercer Ellington prior to his tenure with Duke Ellington from 1948 to 1955, appearing in several films with the orchestra.
Departing from Duke, Wendell played in pit orchestras on Broadway, freelanced with Mary Lou Williams, Art Blakey, Donald Byrd, Milt Jackson and Hank Jones among others. He was the house bassist for Prestige Records known for his rich tone, reliable sense of time and fine technique making him a popular collaborator.
It is estimated that he recorded with a prodigious list of musician with albums numbering over 150 including his own in 1955 as a leader, Wendell Marshall with the Billy Byers Orchestra. He was also a part of the Jazz Lab quintet led by Donald Byrd and Gigi Gryce.
However, by 1968 he retired from music and returned to St. Louis where he set up his own insurance business. Double bassist Wendell Marshall passed away of colon cancer on February 6, 2002 in his hometown of St. Louis.
More Posts: bass