13-01-08

Earl May R.I.P.

EARL MAY (80) RIP
Sat Jan 5, 2008 6:05 pm (PST)

LEFT HANDED BASSIST EARL MAY DIED YESTERDAY AFTERNOON.

Pianist Pete Malinverni informs us of this sad news.

Earl May was born in NYC on September 17, 1927. He had studied with Charles Mingus and in 1951 was playing with the Billy Taylor trio. He later worked with Mercer Ellington, Phineas Newborn and Gloria Lynne.

He recorded with Cat Anderson in 1949. In the 50s he did dates with
tenormen Big John Greer, Gene Ammons, Sonny Stitt, Joe Holiday as well as Tony Scott, Jackie Paris, Barbara Lea, Quincy Jones, Anthony Ortega, Webster Young and John Coltrane (Lush Life), Lorez Alexandria, Hal Serra and Chet Baker. He did many dates with Billy Taylor between 1951 and 1959,

In the 60s there were record dates with Buddy Rich combos, Dave McKenna and Hall Overton, Charlie Rouse, Herman Foster, Shirley Scott, Stanley Turrentine, Lou Donaldson and Mose Allison,

From the 70s through the 90s he recorded with Johnny Hartman, Dizzy Gillespie, Billy Mitchell, Archie Shepp, Canadian Warren Chiasson, Frank Foster, Ruby Braff, Mickey Tucker, Benny Waters, Dave Van Ronk, Marlene Shaw, Carmen Bradford, Claude Williams, Irving Stokes, Grover Mitchell, Junior Mance and since the turn of the century Charles McPherson and Benny Powell. He did his first session as a leader in 2000 and a second in 2005.

Although he was left handed he played the bass (backwards)with the strings in their normal order. He told me the story of doing a trio gig where the drummer was also left handed - a musician who had smoked some pot before entering the club thought he was seeing things backward and blamed it on the pot!

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