Paul Chambers

There are at least three artists who have recorded under the name of Paul Chambers. 1. Paul Laurence Dunbar Chambers, Jr. (April 22, 1935, Pittsburgh, PA, USA – January 4, 1969, New York City, NY) was a leading jazz double bassist. A prominent figure in many rhythm sections during the 1950s and 1960s, his importance in the development of jazz bass can be measured not only by the length and breadth of his work in this short period but also his impeccable time, intonation, and virtuosic improvisations. 2. Paul Chambers, an electronic artist who toured with Soulwax before releasing his first record (Yeah! Techno) in 2010. 3. Paul Chambers, a British minimal electronics experimenter, best known for his contribution to the “The Apprentices Dance” LP compilation from 1981 (released by US label Sounds Interesting Records). 1. Chambers born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was raised in Detroit, Michigan following the death of his mother. He began playing music with several of his schoolmates; the baritone horn was his first instrument. Later he took up the tuba. "I got along pretty well, but it's quite a job to carry it around in those long parades, and I didn't like the instrument that much." Chambers became a string bassist around 1949. His formal bass training got going in earnest in 1952, when he began taking lessons with a bassist in the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Chambers did some classical work himself, with a group called the Detroit String Band that was, in effect, a rehearsal symphony orchestra. Studying at Cass Technical High School off and on from 1952 to 1955, he played in Cass' own symphony, and in various other student groups, one of which had him playing baritone saxophone. By the time he left for New York at the invitation of tenor saxophonist Paul Quinichette, he had absorbed a working knowledge of many instruments. Jazz bass players were largely limited to timekeeping with drums, until Duke Ellington's bassist Jimmy Blanton began a transformation in the instrument's role at the end of the 1930s. Chambers was about 15 when he started to listen to Charlie Parker and Bud Powell, his first jazz influences. Oscar Pettiford and Ray Brown were the first bassists he admired, and these were followed by Percy Heath, Milt Hinton and Wendell Marshall for their rhythm section work, and Charles Mingus and George Duvivier for their technical prowess and for their efforts in broadening the scope of jazz bass. Blanton was his all-time favorite. Playing his first gig at one of the little bars in the Hastings Street area, he was soon doing club jobs with Thad Jones, Barry Harris and others. Paul Chambers gained significance from 1954 on through 1955, touring with such musicians as Bennie Green, Paul Quinichette, George Wallington, J. J. Johnson and Kai Winding. In 1955 he joined the Miles Davis quintet, staying on with the group until 1963 and appearing on the 1959 classic Miles Davis album Kind of Blue. One of Paul's most noted performances was on that album's first cut, "So What," which opens with a brief duet with pianist Bill Evans. Possessing one of the most immediately recognizable bass playing sounds and styles, Paul Chambers played bass in the Miles Davis quintets and sextets from the mid-'50s through the early '60s. From 1963 until 1966 Chambers played often with the Wynton Kelly trio, also freelancing as a sidemen for other important names in jazz all throughout his career. Over his lifetime Paul Chambers developed addictions to both alcohol and heroin. On January 4, 1969 he died of tuberculosis at the premature age of 33. His accompaniment and solos with Davis and other leaders remain distinctive and influential. He and Slam Stewart were among the first jazz bassists to perform arco or bowed features. Paul Chambers played on a great many albums during the period he was active including such landmark albums as John Coltrane's Giant Steps. Many musicians wrote songs dedicated to Paul. John Coltrane's song "Mr. P.C." is named after Chambers. Tommy Flanagan wrote "Big Paul", which was performed on the John Coltrane and Kenny Burrell Prestige 1958 LP. Max Roach wrote a drum solo called "Five For Paul", on his 1977 "impossible to find" Solos drum solo LP recorded in Japan. Sonny Rollins wrote a song called "Paul's Pal" for him as well, and finally, long time fellow bandmate with Miles Davis, pianist Red Garland wrote the tune "The P.C. Blues". A hard drinker and frequent drug user, Chambers died from tuberculosis in 1969 at the age of thirty-three. Read more on User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.