Oscar Pettiford


Oscar Pettiford “Oscar Pettiford Modern Quintet”,  Recorded 1954 

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(William P. Gottlieb/Library of Congress via flickr.com)

Oscar Pettiford was one of the top bassist of the 1945-1960 period, and the successor to the late Jimmy Blanton. In addition, he was the first major jazz soloist on the cello. After starting piano, Pettiford switched to bass when he was 14 and played in a family band. He played with Charlie Barnet’s band in 1942 as one of two bassists and then hit the big time in 1943, participating on Coleman Hawkins’ famous “The Man I Love” session; he also recorded with Earl Hines and Ben Webster during this period. Pettiford co-led an early bop group with Dizzy Gillespie in 1944, and in 1945 went with Coleman Hawkins to the west coast, appearing on one song in the film The Crimson Canary with Hawkins and Howard McGhee.

Pettiford was part of Duke Ellington’s orchestra during much of 1945-1948, and worked with Woody Herman in 1949. Throughout the 1950s, he mostly worked as a leader.