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In 1947, after working with Lucky Millinder, Tab Smith, J. C. Heard, and Coleman Hawkins, he replaced Ray Brown in Dizzy Gillespie's band, in which he played until 1950. In the 1950s he recorded with the Miles Davis nonet, Earl Hines, Count Basie, Johnny Hodges, Thelonious Monk, George Shearing, Cal Tjader, Herbie Nichols and Hawkins. McKibbon was credited with interesting Tjader in Latin music while he played in Shearing's group.
McKibbon has always been highly regarded (among other signs of this regard, he was the bassist for the Giants of Jazz), and continued to perform until 2004. In 1999, at age 80, he recorded his first album in his own name, Tumbao Para Los Congueros De Mi Vida (Blue Lady Records), which was nominated for a Grammy for Best Latin Jazz Performance. McKibbon's second album, Black Orchid (Nine Yards Music), was released in 2004. He also wrote the Afterword to Raul Fernandez' book, Latin Jazz, part of the Smithsonian Institution's series of exhibitions on jazz.
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With Nat Adderley
With Lorez Alexandria
With Sonny Criss
With Dizzy Gillespie
With Thelonious Monk
With Randy Newman
With The Night Blooming Jazzmen
With Herbie Nichols
With Shuggie Otis
With George Shearing