Pettiford, Oscar (Okmulgee, OK, 30 Sept 1922 - Copenhagen, 8 Sept 1960)
Double bass player, cellist, and bandleader
Of mixed black and American Indian extraction, he was born
into a large, musical family and learned many instruments in the family's touring
band, which was based in
Pettiford was the first jazz bass player to adapt and elaborate the innovations of Jimmy Blanton within a bop context, and his ideas and discoveries had a lasting influence on the bop style as a whole. His earliest recorded solos, such as The man I love (1943), were learned by rote by many aspiring bop bass players, though few could approach his penetrating tone and clear projection of ideas. Later, from about 1950, he transferred his solo style to amplified cello, which he played in a bouncy, dexterous style, reminiscent of Charlie Christian. Together with Ray Brown and Charles Mingus, who owed much to his influence, Pettiford was influential in establishing the double bass as a jazz solo instrument equal in importance to the winds.
J. Bradford Robinson
The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, © Macmillan Reference Ltd 1988