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Peter Ind, British Bassist and Producer, Dies at 93

The seven-decade jazz veteran also ran his own Wave Records label and operated two live venues in London

Peter Ind
Peter Ind

Peter Ind, a bassist, record producer, and venue owner whose seven-decade career made him a legend of British jazz, died August 20. He was one month past his 93rd birthday.

His death was first reported on the website London Jazz News. Location and cause of death were not disclosed; however, Ind had been living in the southern England village of Rottingsdean.

A professional musician since he was a teenager, the Middlesex-born Ind first commanded the jazz world’s attention while living in New York in the 1950s. He was a protégé of iconoclastic pianist Lennie Tristano and recorded and toured for many years with Tristano’s star pupils, saxophonists Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh. Like Konitz, Ind strove to play with anyone and everyone he could, from Duke Ellington and Coleman Hawkins to Gerry Mulligan and Sheila Jordan. Returning to England in the mid-1960s (after a few years in California), he showed the same voracious approach there, racking up credits with the likes of Kenny Davern, Tommy Whittle, Keith Nichols, and Martin Taylor. In addition to these associations, Ind built a reputation for performing as a solo bassist, particularly in the mid- and late 1960s.

Ind was also a major figure off the bandstand. He began making recordings while still living in New York, where he documented musicians who played in his loft; within a few years, he had acquired a state-of-the-art recording studio and founded the Wave Records label, on which he released his own music as well as titles by Taylor, Konitz, and many others. In the 1980s, he opened two clubs, the Bass Clef and the Tenor Clef, which he operated for a decade in East London.

In addition, Ind was an accomplished nonfiction author (writing, among other things, a book about Tristano’s musical legacy) and painter (working in an Impressionist-influenced style since the ’50s).

“You can cram a lot into 77 years if you don’t sleep much,” he said in a 2005 interview.

Peter Vincent Ind was born July 20, 1928 in Uxbridge, Middlesex, England, a suburb of London. His father was a builder, and both parents were amateur musicians. The Inds decided that their daughter Marjorie should learn piano, and that Peter should learn the violin. Marjorie lost interest, but Peter stuck with his instrument, also teaching himself piano.

By the age of 14, he was playing piano at dances for servicemen in World War II, working six nights a week. He also played violin in his school orchestra, though he switched to bass at about 16. (One day, Ind related in later years, he realized that he’d been playing the violin with his fly open, and thus decided to take up an instrument that he could hide behind.) He had learned to love the jazz he heard from the swing bands in wartime radio broadcasts; after the war, when he heard records by bebopper Charlie Parker, he was hooked once again.

In 1949, just before he turned 21, Ind took a job as bassist for the ship band of the ocean liner Queen Mary, sailing to New York and back every two weeks. Upon first arriving in New York, Ind sought out 52nd Street, where he saw and met Tristano at the Orchid Room. They met for biweekly lessons thereafter, every time Ind came into port. In 1951, when Tristano asked him to sit in for a set at Birdland, Ind decided to settle in the city.

He met Konitz and Marsh through Tristano, and by 1954 was touring regularly with Konitz. This led to Ind developing a reputation for playing in the “cool” style of the period; determined not to be pigeonholed, however, Ind also toured with the decidedly non-cool Buddy Rich. (He later said that the experience exhausted him, and that he took up painting to relieve the stress of working with Rich.) He taught classical bass techniques to Charles Mingus in his New York loft, where he regularly invited musicians to come and jam, recording their performances and eventually releasing several on his Wave label.

In 1963, now with a family in tow, Ind moved to Big Sur, California, where he stayed for three years, teaching music and beginning his work as a solo performer on the bass. He returned to England in 1966, where he began leading a sextet in London and playing duos with guitarist Martin Taylor. He also created the country’s first full-time academic jazz program at Leeds College of Music.

In 1981, Ind came off the road and built a new complex (complete with two studios) for Wave Records in Hoxton, East London. Its basement became his first club, the Bass Clef, in 1984. He opened a sister club, the Tenor Clef, in 1989. Both were successes, with the likes of Leonard Bernstein being among its regulars, but tax issues forced their closure in 1994. Ind then resumed the life of a working musician and painter, frequently collaborating with guitarist Tony Barnard. A stroke in his seventies caused nerve damage in his face, but did not slow down his music-making. In 2011, he made an album with Konitz and drummer Rod Youngs called A Sixty-Year Reunion … How Cool Is That?—the last recording of Ind released during his lifetime.

He is survived by his wife, Sue Jones, and two children from a previous marriage.

Michael J. West

Michael J. West is a jazz journalist in Washington, D.C. In addition to his work on the national and international jazz scenes, he has been covering D.C.’s local jazz community since 2009. He is also a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader, and as such spends most days either hunkered down at a screen or inside his very big headphones. He lives in Washington with his wife and two children.