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Bassist Bob Cranshaw Dies at 83

Recorded on many Blue Note classics, worked steadily with Sonny Rollins for over five decades

Bassist Bob Cranshaw at the Jazz Connect Conference, Saint Peter's Church, NYC, January 2016
Sonny Rollins and Bob Cranshaw at the Molde Jazz Festival in Norway

Bassist Bob Cranshaw, a consummate and influential sideman best known for his long-running association with saxophone great Sonny Rollins, died yesterday at his home in New York City, following a lengthy battle with bone cancer. He was 83.

Cranshaw was born Melbourne Robert Cranshaw in Evanston, Ill., on Dec. 3, 1932. Prior to taking up bass and tuba as a high-schooler, he trained on piano and drums. Cranshaw was a founding member of drummer Walter Perkins’ MJT+3 in 1957. He moved to New York at the start of the following decade and joined up with Rollins in 1962. Cranshaw moved in and out of Rollins’ touring and recording bands-mostly remaining in-over the following half-century, up until Rollins stopped touring a few years ago. He appears on many of the Saxophone Colossus’ essential albums, beginning with 1962’s “comeback” LP, The Bridge, and continuing through Rollins’ albums for RCA Victor, Milestone and into the Road Shows series, which many critics believe to be among the most important live recordings in jazz history.

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