Magazine article USA TODAY

Milt Hinton's Jazz Legacy

Magazine article USA TODAY

Milt Hinton's Jazz Legacy

Article excerpt

Milt Hinton, fondly called "The Judge" by his fellow musicians, is regarded as the dean of jazz bass players. He was born in Vicksburg, Miss., in 1910 and, at the age of 11, moved to Chicago with his family. His musical education began with private violin instruction, but while attending Chicago's Wendell Phillips High School and Crane Junior College, he learned to play bass horn, tuba, cello, and eventually bass.

During the late 1920s and early 1930s, Hinton worked as a free-lance musician in Chicago, performing with legendary jazz artists, including Zutty Singleton, Jabbo Smith, Eddie South, Erskine Tate, and Art Tatum. In 1936, he joined Cab Calloway's band, where he remained for 15 years, performing with renowned sidemen such as Danny Barker, Chu Berry, Cozy Cole, Dizzy Gillespie, Illinois Jacquet, Jonah Jones, Ike Quebec, and Ben Webster. During this time, Hinton was featured on numerous recordings accompanying Benny Carter, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Coleman Hawkins, Billie Holiday, Ethel Waters, and Teddy Wilson, to name just a few. Some of these sessions have become jazz classics.

After leaving Calloway in the early 1950s, Hinton began working as a studio free-lancer in New York. For two decades, he played on thousands of jazz and popular records, hundreds of jingles and film soundtracks, and dozens of radio and television programs. In addition, he made concert and festival appearances around the world and toured extensively with Louis Armstrong, Pearl Bailey, and Bing Crosby. Hinton has accompanied virtually every jazz and popular artist from Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Charlie Mingus, and John Coltrane to Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler. Barry Manilow, and Paul McCartney.

A resident of Queens, N.Y., for 50 years. Hinton has become an active jazz educator, appearing as a guest clinician at dozens of colleges and teaching weekly jazz workshops at Hunter and Baruch colleges in Manhattan. He has served as the bass chairman for the National Association of Jazz Educators, as a panel member for the National Endowment for the Arts. and on the board of the international Society of Bassists.

A few of Hinton's honors include honorary doctorates from William Paterson College, Skidmore College, Hamilton College, DePaul University, Trinity College, the Berklee College of Music, Fairfield University, and Baruch College of the City University of New York. He is a winner of the Eubie award from the New York Chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and the Living Treasure Award from the Smithsonian institution. …

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