Bob Cranshaw

The bass equivalent of a seasoned saxophone veteran who was never a giant but was well respected for consistent excellence, Bob Cranshaw worked steadily with several top jazz musicians. Despite having a light tone, Cranshaw's timing, musical knowledge, and versatility were featured in an impressive array of recording sessions and tours beginning in the late '50s. Cranshaw played piano and drums before switching to bass and tuba in high school. He was a founding member of Walter Perkins' MJT +3 band in 1957. Cranshaw went to New York with the group in 1960 and joined Sonny Rollins when they disbanded in 1962. He also worked with Duke Pearson's small groups and big band. Cranshaw started a parallel career in television, and was known for his years on Sesame Street. He also worked in theater orchestras, but jazz dates were plentiful; Cranshaw played with Lee Morgan, Wes Montgomery, Coleman Hawkins, Johnny Hodges, Horace Silver, McCoy Tyner, Thelonious Monk, Jimmy Heath, James Moody, and Buddy Rich, as well as toured with George Shearing, Joe Williams, Ella Fitzgerald, and Oscar Peterson. Cranshaw expanded his repertory and added electric bass in the '70s. He worked frequently with Rollins in the '80s and '90s. Cranshaw had no albums as a leader available during the digital age, but can be heard on numerous dates by Rollins, McCoy Tyner, and the MJT + 3, among others. He died of cancer at his home in Manhattan in November 2016 at the age of 83. ~ Ron Wynn

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