Bob Cranshaw

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Bob Cranshaw
Bob Cranshaw.jpg
Bob Cranshaw in 1976
Background information
Birth name Melbourne R. Cranshaw
Born (1932-12-10) December 10, 1932 (age 83)
Origin Evanston, Illinois, US
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Double bass, electric bass
Associated acts Sonny Rollins, many others

Melbourne R. "Bob" Cranshaw (born December 10, 1932, in Evanston, Illinois) is an American jazz bassist. His career spans the heyday of Blue Note Records to his recent involvement with the Musicians Union. He is perhaps best known for his long association with Sonny Rollins. Cranshaw has been in Rollins's working band on and off for over five decades, starting with a live appearance at the 1959 Playboy jazz festival in Chicago and on record with the 1962 album The Bridge.[1]


Some of Cranshaw's best-known performances include on Lee Morgan's The Sidewinder and Grant Green's Idle Moments. Cranshaw also served as the sole session bassist to Sesame Street and The Electric Company songwriter and composer Joe Raposo, and played bass guitar on all songs, tracks, buttons and cues recorded by the Children's Television Workshop during Raposo's tenure. In addition, he was the bass player for Saturday Night Live from 1975 to 1980 and musical director and bassist for Dick Cavett's talk show in the early 1980s. He has played in pit orchestras for numerous Broadway shows including Jesus Christ Superstar, Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band: The Musical and many more. He has done innumerable recording dates for television shows, films and jingles. He is among the most frequently recorded bassists in history.

Cranshaw has performed and recorded with a wide range of leading jazz artists, including Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, Dexter Gordon, Grant Green, Coleman Hawkins, Jimmy Heath, Joe Henderson, Johnny Hodges, Freddie Hubbard, Bobby Hutcherson, J. J. Johnson, Peggy Lee, Jackie McLean, Carmen McRae, Hank Mobley, Thelonious Monk, James Moody, Lee Morgan, Wes Montgomery, Oscar Peterson, Buddy Rich, George Shearing, Wayne Shorter, Horace Silver, Shirley Scott, Stanley Turrentine, McCoy Tyner, Sonny Rollins, George Benson, Milt Jackson and Joe Williams. Outside of the jazz genre, he has recorded or performed with a wide variety of artists including Judy Collins, Gregory Hines, Maurice Hines, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Frank Sinatra and countless others.

Along with Wes Montgomery's brother Monk, Cranshaw was among the early jazz bassists to trade his upright bass for an electric bass. He was criticized for this by jazz purists, although he was forced to switch by a back injury incurred in a serious auto accident.

Throughout his long and distinguished career he has also performed on hundreds of television shows and film and television scores. He appears on The Blue Note Story, a 90-minute documentary of the jazz label.

Cranshaw was also a founding member of the short-lived MJT + 3 (Modern Jazz Two) that included Frank Strozier on alto saxophone, Harold Mabern on piano, Willie Thomas on trumpet, and Walter Perkins on drums. The Chicago-based group produced several albums, a number for Vee-Jay Records. Another vintage Cranshaw jam, 1964's Blue Flames, featuring Shirley Scott, Stanley Turrentine and Otis Finch, was recorded for Prestige Records. Cranshaw also played live shows for tap dancer Maurice Hines, along with friend and drummer Paul Goldberg.

Since the 1990s he has worked for the musicians union in New York City as an advocate for the rights of jazz musicians. He has fought for better pension plans for jazz musicians, to make sure they or their widows received the royalties owed them and for other related issues. Because of his work in television, film and on Broadway, Cranshaw was compensated financially in a way that many jazz musicians were not. He has credited his involvement in the union as his way of trying to insure that his fellow jazz musicians receive the same treatment and financial compensation that he did because of his work in other genres and in other media.


As sideman[edit]

With Pepper Adams

  • Plays the Compositions of Charlie Mingus (Workshop, 1964)

With Nat Adderley

With Mose Allison

With Gene Ammons

With George Benson

With Paul Bley

With Jaki Byard

With Donald Byrd

With Johnny Coles

With Hank Crawford

With Sonny Criss

With Frank Foster

With Dexter Gordon

With Grant Green

With Friedrich Gulda

  • Ineffable (Columbia, 1965)

With Slide Hampton

With Barry Harris

With Eddie Harris

With Hampton Hawes

With Jimmy Heath

With Joe Henderson

With Maurice Hines

  • To Nat "King" Cole with Love (Arbors, 2005)

With Johnny Hodges

With Bobby Hutcherson

With Milt Jackson

With Willis Jackson

With J. J. Johnson

  • J.J.! (RCA Victor, 1964)

With Clifford Jordan

With Eric Kloss

With Yusef Lateef

With Johnny Lytle

With Junior Mance

With Jack McDuff

With Jackie McLean

With Carmen McRae

With MJT + 3

  • Walter Perkins' MJT + 3 (Vee-Jay, 1959)
  • Make Everybody Happy (Vee-Jay, 1960)
  • MJT + 3 (Vee-Jay, 1960)
  • Message from Walton Steet (Rec. 1960; Koch Jazz, 2000)

With Hank Mobley

With Grachan Moncur III

With Wes Montgomery

With James Moody

With Lee Morgan

With Oliver Nelson

With Duke Pearson

With Houston Person

With Dave Pike

With Sonny Red

With Max Roach

With Sonny Rollins

With Lalo Schifrin

With Shirley Scott

With Wayne Shorter

With Horace Silver

With Paul Simon

With Billy Taylor

With Jimmy Smith

With Clark Terry and Bob Brookmeyer

With Bobby Timmons

With Stanley Turrentine

With McCoy Tyner

With Harold Vick

  • Watch What Happens (RCA Victor, 1968)

With Cedar Walton

With Joe Williams

With Gerald Wilson

With Jack Wilson

With Kai Winding

With The Young Lions

With Joe Zawinul


External links[edit]