Leroy Vinnegar Biography

13 July 1928, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, d. 2 August 1999, Portland, Oregon, USA. After teaching himself to play bass, Vinnegar worked in clubs in the Chicago area (including the Beehive), accompanying jazz musicians such as Charlie Parker, before moving to the west coast in 1954. He immediately made an impact on the local music scene, then in the middle of the ‘cool jazz’ boom. He played and recorded with just about everyone; a short list might include Jack Sheldon, Stan Levey, Shorty Rogers, Dexter Gordon, Cy Touff, Russ Freeman, Elmo Hope, Stan Getz, Harold Land, Carl Perkins (with whom he had gone to school), Art Pepper and Teddy Edwards. He was also a member of the Shelly Manne trio (the third man being André Previn) which recorded the 1956 hit album My Fair Lady.

Vinnegar continued to work with a variety of bands, sometimes as leader, at home in large and small groups. He sometimes appeared in non-jazz contexts and his eclecticism allowed him to play comfortably alongside musicians as diverse as Howard McGhee and Les McCann, or Serge Chaloff and film actor George Segal’s dixieland jazz group, Panama Hats. He played on McCann’s and Eddie Harris’ million-selling Sweet Movement. After several years of ill health which resulted in a move to Portland, Oregon, Vinnegar returned to recording with a 1992 session for Contemporary Records. An outstanding exponent of the ‘walking bass’ technique, Vinnegar always played with a wonderful plangency, bringing a zestful swing to any performance.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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