One of bop's most advanced and influential bassists, Wilbur Ware was a superb rhythmic anchor with an unerring sense of swing. Where many post-Jimmy Blanton bassists concentrated on legato melodic phrasing,
Ware wasn't afraid to shift the rhythmic emphasis by varying his note lengths and leaving empty space between his phrases; he also stuck mostly to the lowest register of his instrument, laying a thick foundation. Even if Ware wasn't quite the soloist Blanton was, he had an expert understanding of harmony that allowed him to support some of bop's most sophisticated players.
Ware was born in Chicago in 1923, and played banjo, drums, and violin before picking up the bass as a teenager. After serving in World War II, Ware hit the Chicago jazz scene in 1946, playing with Roy Eldridge, Sonny Stitt, and Stuff Smith early on, as well as striking up relationships with Johnny Griffin (with whom he recorded in 1954) and Junior Mance.