Jimmy Rushing

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Jimmy Rushing
Jimmy Rushing 1946 (Gottlieb 07551).jpg
Jimmy Rushing in 1946
Background information
Birth nameJames Andrew Rushing
Born(1901-08-26)August 26, 1901
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
DiedJune 8, 1972(1972-06-08) (aged 70)
New York, New York
GenresBlues, jazz
InstrumentsSinging
Associated actsCount Basie
 
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Jimmy Rushing
Jimmy Rushing 1946 (Gottlieb 07551).jpg
Jimmy Rushing in 1946
Background information
Birth nameJames Andrew Rushing
Born(1901-08-26)August 26, 1901
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
DiedJune 8, 1972(1972-06-08) (aged 70)
New York, New York
GenresBlues, jazz
InstrumentsSinging
Associated actsCount Basie

James Andrew Rushing (August 26, 1901[1][2] – June 8, 1972), known as Jimmy Rushing, was an American blues shouter and swing jazz singer from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States, best known as the featured vocalist of Count Basie's Orchestra from 1935 to 1948.[3]

Rushing was known as "Mr. Five by Five" and was the subject of an eponymous 1942 popular song that was a hit for Harry James and others—the lyrics describing Rushing's rotund build: "he's five feet tall and he's five feet wide".[3] He joined Walter Page's Blue Devils in 1927, then joined Bennie Moten's band in 1929.[3] He stayed with the successor Count Basie band when Moten died in 1935.[3]

Rushing was a powerful singer who had a range from baritone to tenor. He could project his voice so that it soared over the horn and reed sections in a big-band setting. Basie claimed that Rushing "never had an equal" as a blues vocalist.[4] George Frazier, author of Harvard Blues, called Rushing's distinctive voice "a magnificent gargle". His best known recordings are probably "Going to Chicago" with Basie, and "Harvard Blues", with a famous saxophone solo by Don Byas.

Life and career[edit]

Rushing was born into a family with musical talent and accomplishments. His father, Andrew Rushing, was a trumpeter and his mother, Cora, and brother were singers. Rushing toured the Mid-West and California as an itinerant blues singer in 1923 and 1924 before moving to Los Angeles, California, where he sang with Jelly Roll Morton. Rushing sang with Billy King before moving on to Page's Blue Devils in 1927. He, along with other members of the Blue Devils, defected to the Bennie Moten band in 1929.

Moten died in 1935, and Rushing joined Count Basie for what would be a 13-year tenure. Due to his tutelage under his mentor Moten, Rushing was a proponent of the Kansas City jump blues tradition, best evinced by his performances of "Sent For You Yesterday" and "Boogie Woogie" for the Count Basie Orchestra. After leaving Basie, his recording career soared, as a solo artist and a singer with other bands.

When the Basie band broke up in 1950 he briefly retired, then formed his own group. He also made a guest appearance with Duke Ellington for the 1959 album Jazz Party.[5] In 1960, he recorded an album with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, known for their cerebral cool jazz sound, but the album was nonetheless described by critic Scott Yanow as "a surprising success."[6]

Rushing appeared in the 1957 television special Sound Of Jazz, singing one of his signature songs "I Left My Baby" backed by many of his former Basie band compatriots.

His 1970 album, The You And Me That Used To Be, was named Jazz Album of the Year by DownBeat Magazine in 1971.[7]

After he became ill with leukemia in 1971, Rushing's performing career ended. He died on June 8, 1972, in New York, and was buried at the Maple Grove Cemetery, Kew Gardens, in Queens, New York.

Select discography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "U.S. Social Security Act Application for Account Number: James Andrew Rushing". Jimmyrushing.com. Archived from the original on 2010-05-21. Retrieved 2011-11-15. 
  2. ^ Other sources (e.g. allmusic) give 1903 as birth year.
  3. ^ a b c d Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues - From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books Limited. p. 164. ISBN 1-85868-255-X. 
  4. ^ Barlow, William (1989). "Looking Up At Down": The Emergence of Blues Culture, pp. 245-46. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. ISBN 0-87722-583-4.
  5. ^ Dance, Stanley. (November 1998). Duke Ellington: Jazz Party. Jazz Times. Accessed September 8, 2007.
  6. ^ see allmusic here
  7. ^ DownBeat Magazine

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]