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Bassist Jim Cox: In His Own Words July/August 2016 Feature Interview

Even though the July/August issue of Chicago Jazz Magazine will hit the streets on July 8th we wanted to give you a sneak peek of the feature interview with bassist Jim Cox. He talks about how he got started playing bass to touring with Earl "Fatha" Hines and Marian McPartland and many others. Here is a short segment from the interview.

Chicago Jazz Magazine: What brought you to Chicago?

Cox: That whole migration of that jazz community in Champaign moved up to Chicago, including my girlfriend at the time. I would go on the road and stay with her when I was back. Eventually, that relationship fell apart and I got my own place here. But the biggest reason, was that I went on the road with Earl Hines. Eric Schneider got me an audition for that gig. Chicago Jazz Magazine: Did you meet Eric at U of I? Cox: Yeah, he was a little older than me––graduated a year earlier. Anyway, I did an audition tape and sent it. I got the gig and went on the road with Earl for about three years. Chicago Jazz Magazine: What did you learn from being on the road with Earl Hines? That had to be an experience. Cox: Oh my god! I was 24, and the first gig was in, maybe, Oregon. But then we played at the Playboy Club in L.A., and Leonard Feather was in the audience. I was nervous as hell. I eventually got comfortable playing with him. Earl just wanted to have fun and wanted us to smile and have a good time. Earl was an entertainer. He was criticized for that a lot. Everyone just wanted him to do his “Fifty-seven Varieties” stuff, his solo piano stuff, which was amazing, but he wanted to put on a show. He was an entertainer from the old school like Louis Armstrong, whom he had worked with for years. When I played with him, he would start by playing solo, then add bass and drums, for example, playing “Rosetta” at a breakneck tempo, then bring out Eric Schneider for a feature and finally the singer Marva Josie in a dramatic entrance with a wireless microphone. With Earl, I can also remember one real embarrassing moment to set up for the gig. We were playing in San Diego and I came in to setup for the gig. We started playing the first set, and I look out to the middle of the dance floor, and there is my bass case. I forgot to put it away! [laughs] That was humiliating. Earl never said anything.= He was a gentleman and was always very complimentary.


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