Inspiration for life: from a bass playing kid on a floating riverboat in 1939

Written by on December 4, 2022

On the show today featuring Jimmie Blanton, I mentioned I would write about the riverboat of Fate Marable. I first learned about Fate Marable through reading about Jimmie Blanton’s life.  I remember reading,

“…and on Fate Marable’s jazz riverboats he was recruited by Duke Ellington”. I thought wow. A big band riverboat. Awesome.  But these cruises are more ominous than they sound. The more I read, the more incredible Blanton got…being one of very few who made it in a high stakes liberation method of Fate….pun intended.

Fate Marable was also known for playing a steam powered calliope. Shown in the Cover Photo. He apparently had to wear rain gear, ear gear and gloves because the keys were so hot. There was no data to be found that tells if Blanton got to play Fates’ Calliope.

A beautifully written article I read in the Financial Times exposes the raw situation that was going on :

Marable worked in a viciously and increasingly segregated social environment. Lynchings were common, and race riots such as that in St Louis in 1917 were little less than exercises in ethnic cleansing. This was the time of the “Great Migration” of southern blacks northwards. Marable co-operated to the extent that he got regular employment and a reasonable wage, but at the same time he used his position to help talented colleagues into mainstream success, recommending the best to established orchestras, such as those of Duke Ellington and Fats Waller.~Mike Hobart. June 10 2005 (Financial Times).

I highly encourage you to read the article, a book review  of JAZZ ON THE RIVER by William Howland Kenney. (University of Chicago Press )

Jimmie Blanton influenced Mingus, Ray Brown, and Oscar Pettiford as well as so many others

…and his career from the time Duke Ellington picked him up in 1939 until he passed away at 23 years old in 1941 was tragically short.


Here’s what I learned today….from Jimmie Blanton…

Hug life,

Work it,

Change it back and front until you make it sing,

make it gleam from ear to ear and then it makes you giddy.

(To say it 1930’s style).

🍭See you at 3pm next Sunday!🍭

… to explore Oscar Pettiford.


Enjoy the playlists….

The YouTube  one below has a few more versions of the songs than the recording that has my live commentary.











  • Sophisticated Lady
    Duke Ellington; Mitchell Parish; Irving Mills; Jimmie Blanton
    Solos, Duets, & Trios
  • Mr. J.B. Blues (Take 1)
    Duke Ellington; Jimmy Blanton;
    Solos, Duets, & Trios
  • Bojangles - Remastered
    The Blanton-Webster Band
    Never No Lament:
  • Things Ain't What They Used To Be
    Johnny Hodges & His Orchestra
    Passion Flower 1940-46
  • Squaty Roo - Remastered - 1995
    Johnny Hodges & His Orchestra
    Passion Flower 1940-46
  • Duke Ellington -Chloe (Song of the Swamp) - 1999 Remastered
    The Blanton-Webster Band
    Never No Lament:
  • Duke Ellington -Rumpus in Richmond - 1999 Remastered
    The Blanton-Webster Band
    Never No Lament:
  • Duke Ellington - Jack The Bear - 1999 Remastered
    The Blanton-Webster Band
    Never No Lament:
  • Good Queen Bess Take 2; Remastered - 1995
    Johnny Hodges & His Orchestra
    Passion Flower 1940-46
  • Pitter Panther Patter - 1999 Remastered - Take 1 -
    Duke Ellington; Jimmie Blanton -
    Solos, Duets, & Trios
  • Charlie The Chulo
    Barney Bigard & Orchestra; Duke Ellington
    The Great Ellington Units
  • Chocolate Shake
    Duke Ellington; Ivie Anderson; Sonny Greer; Ray Nance; Harry Carney Jimmie Blanton -
    Wicked Swing
  • "C" Jam Blues
    Barney Bigard -
    - A Lull At Dawn

  • Show Notes & Show Blogs


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