Callender, Red (actually, George Sylvester)

views updated

Callender, Red (actually, George Sylvester)

Callender, Red (actually, George Sylvester), famed jazz bassist, tuba player; b. Haynesville, Va., March 6, 1916; d. Los Angeles, Calif., March 8, 1992. He learned to play several instruments while a student. At 15 he worked with Banjo Bernie’s Band; he moved to Calif, in the mid–1930s. He was with Louis Armstrong in Los Angeles (November 1937), subsequently with Nat “King” Cole and various bands in Calif. During this time he had long spells of studio work, and led his own trio at Suzi-Q Club in Hollywood. He worked in Lee and Lester Young’s band in 1941-42 in Los Angeles. He was with Errol Garner’s Trio (late 1946), Johnny Otis (1947), then led his own band in Hawaii until 1950. He returned to Hollywood, spent two years with Jerry Fielding, then had extensive freelance work in film, TV, and recording studios, occasionally leading small groups through the 1950s and 1960s. His 1954 album, Red Callender Speaks Low, was a landmark in jazz recording in its emphasis on the bass as a solo instrument. During the 1970s, he toured Europe with the Legends of Jazz tour in 1978 and 1979. He founded the group Wind Coll. in Los Angeles in the 1980s. He remained active composing, teaching, and performing until a year before his death.


Red Callender Speaks Low (1954); Swingin’ Suite (1956); Lowest (1958); Night Mist Blues (1984).


R. Callender and E. Cohen, Unfinished Dream (London, 1985).

—John Chilton/Lewis Porter

About this article

Callender, Red (actually, George Sylvester)

Updated About content Print Article