Simmons, John (Jacob) (Haskell, OK, 14 June 1918 - Los Angeles, 19 Sept 1979)


Double bass player


He first played trumpet, then took up double bass. He worked with Nat "King" Cole and recorded in Los Angeles with Teddy Wilson's quintet (1937), then moved to Chicago, where he played in the bands of Johnny Letman (1940), Roy Eldridge (1940-41), Benny Goodman (1941), and Cootie Williams and Louis Armstrong (both 1942). He worked in CBS radio orchestras, performed briefly with Duke Ellington (1943), appeared in the acclaimed film Jammin' the Blues (1944), then played with Eddie Heywood in Los Angeles and Illinois Jacquet in New York (both 1945). Between 1944 and 1946 he also recorded with James P. Johnson, Hot Lips Page, Sid Catlett, Ben Webster, Billie Holiday, the Kansas City Six, Heywood, Sidney De Paris, Erroll Garner, Al Casey, Coleman Hawkins, Don Byas, Benny Carter, and Bill De Arango. Later he recorded with Ella Fitzgerald (1947), Sir Charles Thompson (1947-8), and Thelonious Monk (1948) and played in Garner's trio in New York (1949-52). In 1955 he performed with Harry Edison and in Scandinavia with the quintet led by Rolf Ericson and Duke Jordan; the following year he recorded with Tadd Dameron. Illness prevented Simmons from working steadily thereafter but he recorded with Edison in 1958 and played with Phineas Newborn in 1959-60. He was equally at home working with mainstream and bop groups; his round tone and sensitive, solid playing is heard to advantage on the recordings he made with Catlett.


 Johnny Simmen


The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz,