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Paul Chambers



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Paul Chambers was born in Pittsburgh in 1935, and grew up in Detroit, where he became part of the city's growing jazz scene.  He moved to New York, where he played in the J.J. Johnson - Kai Winding quintet.  He joined Miles Davis' first legendary quintet (along with John Coltrane, "Philly" Joe Jones, and Red Garland) at the age of 20.  As the bass player, he complimented Jones pefectly on fast songs and played just well on ballads.  After "Slam" Stewart, he was one of the first bassists given the chance to solo, and in doing so, he introduced bebop phrasing to the bass.

Chambers made four albums as a leader.   In addition, he recorded with many musicians including Coltrane, Cannonball Adderly, Solly Rollins, Bud Powell, Freddie Hubbard, and Donald Byrd. 

After leaving Davis' group, he continued working with the pianist who replaced Garland in Davis' group, Wynton Kelly, and he did freelance work in New York. 

Chambers holds the unique distinction, along with Coltrane and Wynton Kelly, of participating on two of the most important albums in jazz history: Coltrane's Giant Steps and Davis' Kind of Blue.  Both albums are radically different in style--a testement to Chambers' ability.  As a matter of fact, the song Mr. P.C. on Giant Steps was written for Chambers (P.C. = Paul Chambers).   Coltrane said about him, "[Chambers is] one of the greatest bass players in jazz.  His playing is beyond what I could say about it.  The bass is such an important instrument, andhas so much to do with a group and a soloist can best function that I feel very fortunate to have had him on this [recording] date and to have been able to work with him in Miles' band so long."

Unfortunately, Chambers lived a hedonistic, self-serving lifestyle similar to Charlie Parker, and died at the age of 33.

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