Joe Comfort was born on July 18, 1917 in Los Angeles, California into a musical family. Influenced by Jimmy Blanton, Paul Chambers and Ray Brown, he taught himself to play the bass and began performing with Lionel Hampton’s orchestra in the late Twenties. Later he would perform with Nat King Cole, a partnership that would endure until the early 1950s.
Comfort participated in numerous studio dates in the late fifties and early 1960s, with such luminaries as Sammy Davis Jr., Benny Carter, Nancy Wilson and Frank Sinatra but his fear of flying kept him grounded in and around Los Angeles.
According to Mingus’ biography, Joe taught Charles Mingus how to play in Watts where he grew up. His studio credits include working with Nelson Riddle, as well as pop and vocal projects. He was also a part of the M Squad band that highlighted jazz on television.
His beautiful wife, Mattie, was the inspiration for Billy Strayhorn’s “Satin Doll.” Joe Comfort, jazz bassist, passed away on October 29, 1988.
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Eric Revis was born on May 31, 1967 in Los Angeles, California. He grew up listening mostly to funk and rock music and it was not until when he was 14 years of age that he picked up an electric bass and taught himself how to play. He attended Southern University as biology major for a year, Eric relocated to San Antonio, TX where he got a regular gig playing 6 nights a week.
While working the gig Revis got turned onto jazz, notably Kind Of Blue, which influenced him to switch to acoustic bass. He studied under Ellis Marsalis at the University of New Orleans but came to prominence attending the legendary school of Betty Carter in the mid-1990s.
In 1997, Eric met Branford Marsalis at a recording session with Russell Gunn. So impressed with the young bassist asked he Eric to join him on his recording, Bug Shot along with Kenny Kirkland and Jeff “Tain” Watts. The rest is history and the jazz bassist and composer has been a member of Branford Marsalis’s ensemble since 1997.
He released his debut album as a leader in 2004 titled Tales of the Stuttering Mime, has a sideman catalogue of thrity albums performing with Branford Marsalis, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Joe Locke, Ralph Peterson, Orrin Evans, Frank McComb, J.D. Allen, Winard Harper, Sherman Irby and Russell Gunn among others. He has directed the Jazz Ensemble at Trinity University, in San Antonio, Texas from 2007/2008. He continues to perform, record and tour.
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Ron Carter was born May 4, 1937 in Ferndale, Michigan and started playing the cello at the age of 10, but when his family moved to Detroit, he ran into difficulties regarding the racial stereotyping of classical musicians and instead moved to bass. He attended Cass Technical High School and later the Eastman School of Music, played in the later Philharmonic Orchestra. He received his bachelor’s degree at Eastman in 1959, and in 1961 a master’s degree in double bass performance from the Manhattan School of Music.
His first jobs as a jazz musician were with Jaki Byard and Chico Hamilton and made his first records were made with Eric Dolphy and Don Ellis in 1960. Ron led his first date as leader, “Where?”with Dolphy and Mal Waldron and a date “Out There” with Dolphy, George Duvivier and Roy Haynes playing advanced harmonies and concepts were in step with the third stream movement. He truly came to fame in the early ‘60s in the second great Miles Davis quintet with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Tony Williams.
Over the course of his career, Carter who is also an acclaimed cellist has appeared on over 2,500 albums make him one of the most-recorded bassists in jazz history. He has played with Sam Rivers, Freddie Hubbard, Duke Pearson, Lee Morgan, McCoy Tyner, Andrew Hill, Horace Silver, Joe Henderson, Hank Jones and too many more to name.
He was a member of the New York Jazz Quartet, the Classical Jazz Quartet, was a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of the Music Department of The City College of New York after twenty years teaching and received an honorary Doctorate from the Berklee College of Music. He is currently on the faculty of the Julliard School teaching bass in the school’s Jazz Studies program, sits on the Advisory Committee of the Board of Directors of The Jazz Foundation of America.
Mickey Bass was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on May 2, 1943. By the time he was nine years old he had just about every record that ‘Bird’ ever cut, not to mention living in an atmosphere that was permeated by ‘Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday and Miles Davis.
1961 saw Bass matriculating through Howard University in an atmosphere hostile to jazz, failing along with classmates Harold Vick, Marion Brown and Charles Tolliver, due to the playing of jazz being forbidden on campus. Two years later he landed in New York City, getting his early breaks with Hank Mobley, Sonny Rollins and Bennie Green. His first session was with Lee Morgan on The Sixth Sense that included on of his compositions and arrangements of “Mickey’s Tune”.
As an educator from 1975 to 1978, Mickey taught Acoustic Bass & Jazz Improvisation at “The Ellington School of The Arts”, Washington, D.C. and Director of the Jazz Ensemble. He also taught in New York City for the Jazzmobile.
He has performed and recorded with John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Freddie Hubbard, Art Blakey, Lee Morgan, Jackie McLean, Bobby Timmons, Gloria Lynne, Jimmy McGriff, Curtis Fuller, Hank Mobley, Billy Eckstine, Reuben Wilson, Chico Freeman and John Hicks among others. He led a sextet called The Cooperation, composed A Chant Blu, One For Trane, Meditation, Gayle’s Groove and Siempre Me Amor, and has cut three sessions as a leader for Chiaroscuro and Early Bird labels. The hard bop bassist, arranger and educator who also plays saxophone and has been active on the jazz scene for more than 40 years, continues to perform, compose and record.
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Jimmy “Spanky” DeBrest was born on April 24, 1937 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He took up the bass and during his early years in Philadelphia he played with Lee Morgan’s earliest band while the virtuoso trumpeter was still a teenager. In 1957 he was a member of Ray Draper’s Quintet, Jackie McLean, pianist Mal Waldron and drummer Ben Dixon.
Spanky’s most famous affiliation was with master drummer Art Blakey until 1958 on a series of recordings that includes a spellbinding collaboration with pianist and composer Thelonious Monk. His performance credits include work with John Coltrane, Clifford Jordan and J. J. Johnson. He continually recorded until 1971.
Bassist Spanky DeBrest passed away on March 2, 1973 leaving the world his legacy of seventeen recording sessions as a sideman predominately with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers.
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