Jazz bass player, anchor of more than music.

Born in Miami in 1934, Garrison grew up in Philly where he got his first taste of playing the bass. In the late 1950's, he moved to New York City with Philly Joe Jones and was swiftly caught up in the free jazz movement.

By 1961, Jimmy was playing regularly with Ornette Coleman at the Five Spot, succeeding Charlie Haden. It was there, sitting in randomly, that Coltrane noticed Garrison's talents, and invited him to play in his quartet. During the next five years, he would be the "pivot", as McCoy Tyner put it: as the music evolved, he grounded the dynamics with his intuitive flow, as well as being the only member of the original quartet lineup to stick it out to the bitter-sweet end.

Illumination!, a sextet project in 1963, was led by Jimmy and his rhythmic buddy Elvin Jones. After Coltrane's passing, Garrison and Jones would return to play together as the foundation of traditional jazz groups. He also played with the likes of Archie Shepp, Alice Coltrane, and Hampton Hawes -- in addition to leading his own group.

Throughout his life, though very good technically (see: intro bass solo to Love on Meditations), Garrison stood by the intrinsic function of the bass in jazz as a carrier of rhythm. His slowly burning solos and lines stayed simple, yet brilliant, underneath all the storm and stress in the avant-garde squealing above.

Another jazz great claimed early, Jimmy Garrison died of lung cancer in 1976.


garrisonjazz.com, memorial tribute by family.

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