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Leroy Vinnegar

Leroy Vinnegar - acoustic double bass (1928 - 1999)

Regarded as the ‘Master of the Walking Bass,’ Leroy Vinnegar was a mainstay on jazz recording sessions from 1952 on where he was on over 600 dates. His signature walking bass was the foundation for his impeccable sense of swing, which has gone on to influence several generations of players.

Vinnegar was born into a musically inclined family in Indianapolis, Indiana, on July 13, 1928. His earliest musical education came from the radio, on which he listened religiously to the great bands of Duke Ellington and Count Basie. His two sisters played piano, and young Leroy thought that might be his instrument as well. “I tried my hand at piano,” he says, “and I would have been a nice piano player, had I stayed with it.” Things changed when he actually started playing with others, however. “The bass player used to leave his instrument at the house after we’d rehearse,” Vinnegar remembers, “and I just started messing with it, and the next thing you know I was playing the bass. We just got a communication going.”

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