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Daten erfasst von: Jazztime
Bassist Leonard Gaskin was a vital if unheralded contributor to the evolution of bebop, contributing to seminal dates headlined by jazz icons including Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, and Coleman Hawkins. In the later years of his career he emerged as one of the most sought-after session musicians in New York City, appearing on myriad pop, R&B, and gospel LPs as well as the landmark folk effort The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. Born August 15, 1920, in New York City, Gaskin grew up in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant district with future jazz greats like drummer Max Roach and pianists Duke Jordan and Randy Weston. He briefly studied piano as well before switching to bass, making his professional debut in 1943 alongside Roach and Weston in a band supporting former tap dancer Clark Monroe, who later opened the venerable Harlem jazz club Monroe's Uptown House, one of the principal venues in the early history of bebop.
Gaskin was later a fixture of the Monroe's house band, also serving an extended stint at Minton's Playhouse, the epicenter of the modern jazz movement. In 1944, he replaced Oscar Pettiford in Dizzy Gillespie's band at the 52nd Street nightspot the Yacht Club, followed by stints behind Cootie Williams, Charlie Parker, Don Byas, Eddie South, and Charlie Shavers. Unlike so many of his contemporaries, Gaskin shied away from alcohol and narcotics, and continued living at his family's Brooklyn home throughout the formative years of his career -- his emotional stability echoed the precise timekeeping and refinement of his playing, and demand for his services continued to grow as the decade went on.
Gaskin joined Erroll Garner's trio in 1949, remaining with the group for five years while he freelanced on sessions headlined by Stan Getz, J.J. Johnson, and Billie Holiday. He joined Eddie Condon's Dixieland band in 1957 on the recommendation of clarinetist Bob Wilbur -- the lone African-American member of the group, Gaskin joined Condon's ranks in time for a British tour, and remained in the lineup upon their return to their regular gig at Condon's New York City club. By 1960 Gaskin moved to studio work on a full-time basis -- in addition to the 1962 Dylan session, which yielded a rendition of the traditional "Corrina, Corrina," he played on dates behind everyone from James Brown to Marvin Gaye to Little Richard, and in 1961 he even headlined the Swingville release Leonard Gaskin at the Jazz Band Ball, followed a year later by Leonard Gaskin at the Darktown Strutters' Ball.
Gaskin later assumed the role of educator, touring New York schools as a member of the groups the International Art of Jazz and the Good Groove Band. For more than a decade, he and drummer Oliver Jackson teamed to play the European jazz festival circuit, and he also regularly collaborated with Sy Oliver's Rainbow Room Orchestra. Gaskin capped off his career in 1994 by performing at the White House's Congressional Ball at the behest of President Bill Clinton. Although his touring schedule slowed dramatically in the decade to follow, he wrote a privately published autobiography and donated his personal jazz collection to the American Music Archives at the Smithsonian's Museum of American History. After spending his final years at a Queens nursing home, Gaskin died January 24, 2009, at the age of 88.