Jimmy Garrison

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Jimmy Garrison
Birth name Jimmy Garrison
Born (1934-03-03)March 3, 1934
Americus, Georgia, USA
Died April 7, 1976(1976-04-07) (aged 42)
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Double bassist
Instruments Double bass
Associated acts John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman

James Emory (Jimmy) Garrison (March 3, 1934 – April 7, 1976)[1] was an American jazz double bassist born in Americus, Georgia. He is best remembered for his long association with John Coltrane from 1961–1967.[2]


Garrison was raised in both Miami, Florida and Philadelphia where he learned to play bass. Garrison came of age in the midst of a thriving Philadelphia jazz scene that included fellow bassists Reggie Workman and Henry Grimes, pianist McCoy Tyner and trumpeter Lee Morgan. Between 1957 and 1962, Garrison played and recorded with trumpeter Kenny Dorham; clarinetist Tony Scott; drummer Philly Joe Jones; and saxophonists Bill Barron, Lee Konitz, and Jackie McLean, as well as Curtis Fuller, Benny Golson, Lennie Tristano, Pharoah Sanders, and Tony Scott, among others.[3] In 1959 he first appeared on record with Ornette Coleman on "Art of the Improvisers" (Atlantic, 1959).[4] He continued to work with many leaders, including Walter Bishop, Jr., Coleman, Dorham, and Cal Massey for the next two years.

He formally joined Coltrane's quartet in 1962, replacing Workman. The long trio blues "Chasin' the Trane" is probably his first recorded performance with Coltrane and Elvin Jones. Garrison performed on many classic Coltrane recordings, including A Love Supreme. In concert with Coltrane, Garrison would often play unaccompanied improvised solos, sometimes as the prelude to a song before the other musicians joined in. After Coltrane's death, Garrison worked and recorded with Hampton Hawes, Archie Shepp, Clifford Thornton and groups led by Elvin Jones.[2]

Garrison also had a long association with Ornette Coleman, first recording with him on Ornette on Tenor and Art of the Improvisers. He and drummer Elvin Jones have been credited with eliciting more forceful playing than usual from Coleman on the albums New York is Now and Love Call.

In 1971 and 1972, Garrison taught as a Visiting Artist at Wesleyan University[5] and Bennington College.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Jimmy Garrison had four daughters and a son. He had Lori, Joy and Robin with his first wife Robbie Garrison. Then later Maia Claire and Matthew with his second wife, Italy-based dancer and choreographer Roberta Escamilla Garrison. Matthew, Joy and Maia Claire are accomplished artists in their own right. Joy Garrison sang alongside Barney Kessel, Cameron Brown, Tony Scott and many others. Matthew Garrison is a bass guitar player and the founder/ owner of ShapeShifter Lab in Brooklyn, NY. He has performed and recorded with Joe Zawinul, Chaka Khan, The Saturday Night Live Band, John McLaughlin, Joni Mitchell, Herbie Hancock, Steve Coleman, Whitney Houston, Pino Daniele, John Scofield, Paul Simon, Tito Puente and many others.[7] Jimmy's daughter Maia Claire (Garrison-Trinn), former soloist with the internationally acclaimed Urban Bush Women, currently works a Dance & Health Educator in Altamonte Springs, Florida. Jimmy Garrison died of lung cancer on April 7, 1976. He passed many years before having the opportunity to meet his five grandchildren, Keith Owens, GlendaRose Aiello, Benjamin Garrison, Lucas Garrison and Salif Alessandro Trinn.


As leader[edit]

As sideman[edit]

With Ornette Coleman

With John Coltrane

With Ted Curson

With Kenny Dorham

With Curtis Fuller

With Elvin Jones

With Philly Joe Jones

With Lee Konitz

  • Live at the Half Note (Verve, 1959)

With Rolf Kühn and Joachim Kühn

With Jackie McLean

With Sonny Rollins

With Archie Shepp

With Clifford Thornton

  • Freedom & Unity (New World Records, 1967)


  1. ^ Kernfeld, Barry (2002). "Garrison, Jimmy". In Barry Kernfeld. The new Grove dictionary of jazz, vol. 2 (2nd ed.). New York: Grove's Dictionaries Inc. p. 18. ISBN 1561592846. 
  2. ^ a b Kelsey, Chris. "Allmusic Biography". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 2012-06-25. 
  3. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/artist/jimmy-garrison-mn0000853359/biography
  4. ^ My Favorite Things (album)
  5. ^ http://www.jazz.com/encyclopedia/garrison-jimmy-james-emory
  6. ^ The Biographical Encyclopedis of Jazz, Feather & Gitlin, 2007, Oxford (p.92)
  7. ^ "Matthew Garrison-Bass Guitar". Garrisonjazz.com. Retrieved 2012-06-25.