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

Jimmy Garrison
Background information
Birth nameJames Emory Garrison
Born(1934-03-03)March 3, 1934
Americus, Georgia, United States
DiedApril 7, 1976(1976-04-07) (aged 42)
New York City, New York[1]
InstrumentsDouble bass
Associated actsJohn Coltrane, Ornette Coleman


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, and Pharoah Sanders, among others.[1] 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.[3]

Garrison also had a long association with Ornette Coleman, first recording with him on Ornette on Tenor and appeared on the outtake compilation 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 lifeEdit

Jimmy Garrison had four daughters and a son. Garrison and his first wife Robbie had daughters Lori, Joy and Robin. Then later with his second wife, Italy-based dancer and choreographer Roberta Escamilla Garrison, came Maia Claire and Matthew.

Matthew, Joy and Maia Claire are accomplished artists in their own right. 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] Joy Garrison sang alongside Barney Kessel, Cameron Brown, Tony Scott and many others. Maia Claire (Garrison-Trinn), former soloist with the dance troupe Urban Bush Women, currently works a Dance & Health Educator in Altamonte Springs, Florida.

Jimmy Garrison died of lung cancer on April 7, 1976. His family legacy includes five grandchildren, Keith Owens, Glenda Rose Aiello, Benjamin Garrison, Lucas Garrison and Salif Alessandro Trinn.

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Jimmy Garrison among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.[8]


As leaderEdit

As sidemanEdit

With Lorez Alexandria

With Bill Barron

With Walter Bishop Jr.

With Benny Carter

With Ornette Coleman

With Alice Coltrane

With John Coltrane

With Ted Curson

With Nathan Davis

  • Rules of Freedom (Polydor, 1969)

With Bill Dixon

With Kenny Dorham

With Curtis Fuller

With Beaver Harris

  • From Ragtime to No Time (360 Records, 1975)

With Elvin Jones

With Philly Joe Jones

With Lee Konitz

With Rolf Kühn and Joachim Kühn

With Cal Massey

  • Blues to Coltrane (Candid, 1961 [1987])

With Jackie McLean

With J. R. Monterose

  • Straight Ahead (Jaro, 1959, also issued as The Message)

With Robert Pozar

  • Good Golly Miss Nancy (Savoy, 1967)

With Sonny Rollins

With Tony Scott

  • Golden Moments (Muse, 1959 [1982])
  • I'll Remember (Muse, 1959 [1984])

With Archie Shepp

With Clifford Thornton

  • Freedom & Unity (New World Records, 1967)

With McCoy Tyner


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ Kernfeld, Barry (2002). "Garrison, Jimmy". In Barry Kernfeld (ed.). The new Grove dictionary of jazz, vol. 2 (2nd ed.). New York: Grove's Dictionaries Inc. p. 18. ISBN 1561592846.
  3. ^ a b Kelsey, Chris. "Allmusic Biography". Retrieved 2012-06-25.
  4. ^ My Favorite Things (album)
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-08-22. Retrieved 2015-11-24.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz, Feather & Gitlin, 2007, Oxford (p.92)
  7. ^ "Matthew Garrison-Bass Guitar". Retrieved 2012-06-25.
  8. ^ Rosen, Jody (June 25, 2019). "Here Are Hundreds More Artists Whose Tapes Were Destroyed in the UMG Fire". The New York Times. Retrieved June 28, 2019.

External linksEdit