Skip to main content

Blanton, Jimmy (actually, James)

Blanton, Jimmy (actually, James)

Blanton, Jimmy (actually, James), innovative jazz bassist, famous for his work with Duke Ellington; b. Chattanooga, Term., Oct. 5, 1918; d. Monrovia, Calif., July 30, 1942. His hard-swinging lines introduced a chromaticism not typical of jazz bass before him, and through exposure with Ellington, who always appreciated bassists, he became the role model for the entire next generation. His mother was a pianist, who led her own band in Term, for many years. Jimmy started on violin during early childhood, did first gig at a local store, at the age of eight. He studied theory with an uncle, who specialized in teaching the mathematical aspects of music. Blanton switched to string bass while studying at Term. State Coll.; played in the State Collegians and gigged with local bands led by “Bugs” Roberts and drummer Joe Smith. During college summer vacations he played with Fate Marable on the riverboats; left college during his third year and moved to St. Louis. He joined Jeter-Pillars Orch. in late 1937 (playing a three-string bass), and continued to work in Fate Marable’s Cotton Pickers during summer months. In autumn 1939, while playing at the Coronado Hotel Ballroom, St. Louis, he was signed by Duke Ellington, bought a four-string bass on hire-purchase (guarantor Gene Porter), and began working with Duke (sharing bass duties with Billy Taylor until Taylor left in January 1940). While working with Ellington in L.A., Blanton was taken seriously ill (entered L.A. Hospital in late 1941, where tuberculosis was diagnosed). In the spring of 1942 he was moved from the hospital to the Duarte Sanitarium, near L.A., where he spent the last few months of his life.


Duke Ellington: “Plucked Again/Blues” (1930); “pitter Panther Patter/Sophisticated Lady” (1940); “Body and Soul/Mr. J. B. Blues” (1940); “Jack the Bear” (1940); “Conga Brava/Ko-Ko” (1940); “Concerto for Cootie” (1940); “Sepia Panorama/Harlem Air Shaft” (1940); “In a Mellotone” (1940). B. Bigard: “Lost in Two Flats” (1939). Cootie Williams: “Black Butterfly” (1940). J. Hodges: “Squatty Roo” (1941).


I. Kanth, A Discography of Jimmy Blanton (Stockholm, 1970).

—John Chilton Who’s Who of Jazz/Lewis Porter

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Blanton, Jimmy (actually, James)." Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. . 26 Mar. 2019 <>.

"Blanton, Jimmy (actually, James)." Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. . (March 26, 2019).

"Blanton, Jimmy (actually, James)." Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. . Retrieved March 26, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.