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A fine supportive bassist who was capable of taking worthy solos, Ralph Pena was greatly in demand for modern jazz dates during the 1950s and 60s. Pena started out playing baritone horn and tuba before switching to bass, and at age 15 he began gigging professionally with Jerry Austin (1942-44). He went to college in San Francisco and became a fixture in the West Coast jazz scene. Among Pena's many associations were Nick Esposito, Art Pepper, Vido Musso, Cal Tjader (1950), Billy May, Barney Kessel, Stan Getz, Charlie Barnet, Shorty Rogers (1955-58), Jimmy Giuffre, Buddy DeFranco, Bob Brookmeyer and Pete Jolly (1958-62). In the 1960s, Pena worked with Ben Webster, George Shearing, Frank Sinatra (1962), Joe Pass, Nancy Wilson, Ella Fitzgerald, Anita O'Day and many others. Although Pena never headed his own record session, he led his own group on an occasional basis before his early death at age 42.
24. Februar 1927 in Jarbidge, NV