Jimmy Cheatham

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Jimmy Cheatham
James Cheatham.jpg
Background information
Birth nameJames Rudolph Cheatham
Born(1924-06-18)June 18, 1924
Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.
DiedJuly 12, 2007(2007-07-12) (aged 83)
San Diego, California
Years active1940s–2000s

James Rudolph Cheatham (June 18, 1924 – January 12, 2007)[1] was an American jazz trombonist and teacher who played with Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, and Ornette Coleman.[2]

In 1978, Cheatham was invited to lead the jazz program at University of California, San Diego. In 1979 he began to direct the school's African American and jazz performance programs. He retired in 2005.[3]


Born in Birmingham, Alabama,[1] it was while serving in the United States Army during and just after World War II, that Cheatham played in the 173rd Army Ground Force Band.

Cheatham met his wife, Jean Evans, in 1956 in Buffalo, New York, when the local musicians' union chief called them separately to replace two musicians who could not make a job at the local Elks Ballroom. They married in 1959.

In the mid-1980s Cheatham formed The Sweet Baby Blues Band with his wife. The Sweet Baby Blues Band played Kansas City style blues. Cheatham's Sweet Baby Blues album won a French Grand Prix du Disque. Their album Luv in the Afternoon was voted blues album of the year in a 1991 critics poll in Down Beat magazine.

Cheatham also taught jazz at Bennington College in Vermont and at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin.

Cheatham's legacy is carried on by several students who went on to become, like him, prominent composer/performer/educators: flutist Nicole Mitchell, bassist Karl E. H. Seigfried, and drummer Vikas Srivastava.

Cheatham died in San Diego, California, in January 2007 following heart surgery, at the age of 82.[1]


As leader[edit]

With Jeannie Cheatham

  • Sweet Baby Blues (Concord Jazz, 1985)
  • Midnight Mama (Concord Jazz, 1986)
  • Homeward Bound (Concord Jazz, 1987)
  • Back to the Neighborhood (Concord Jazz, 1989)
  • Luv in the Afternoon (Concord Jazz, 1990)
  • Basket Full of Blues (Concord, 1992)
  • Blues and the Boogie Masters (Concord Jazz, 1993)
  • Gud Nuz Bluz (Concord, 1996)

As sideman[edit]

With Bill Dixon

With Chico Hamilton

With Grover Mitchell

  • Meet Grover Mitchell (Jazz Chronicles, 1979)
  • The Devil's Waltz (Jazz Chronicles, 1981)


  1. ^ a b c "The Dead Rock Stars Club 2007 January to June". Thedeadrockstarsclub.com. Retrieved 11 May 2021.
  2. ^ Eagle, Bob; LeBlanc, Eric S. (2013). Blues - A Regional Experience. Santa Barbara: Praeger Publishers. p. 256. ISBN 978-0313344237.
  3. ^ [1][permanent dead link]

External links[edit]