Chuck Andrus

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Bassist Chuck Andrus shows up on a pile of sides by big-band leader Woody Herman, but also has an interesting career in straight-ahead jazz groups in which high-profile players such as alto saxophonist…
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Bassist Chuck Andrus shows up on a pile of sides by big-band leader Woody Herman, but also has an interesting career in straight-ahead jazz groups in which high-profile players such as alto saxophonist Phil Woods and vibraphonist Terry Gibbs also took part. Hailing from New England, Andrus made his way toward the same beacon that attracts many a jazz musician: New York City. There he studied at the Manhattan School of Music as a young man, then formed a combo based out of Springfield, Massachusetts that included Woods as well as the fine guitarist Sal Salvador. By 1953, the bassist had begun working with Charlie Barnet's band, moving to the medium-sized ensembles of Claude Thornhill for the next several years.

The latter ensemble was where he first hooked up with Gibbs, with whom he maintained a regular playing relationship. Following the mid-'50s, Andrus was known as a freelance player around Manhatten, recording some of his better work with leaders such as trumpeter Don Stratton, pianist Bernard Peiffer, and drummer Jim Chapin. Although not that well known, these are all players deserving of more attention. Peiffer, for example, cut an album for Emarcy entitled Bernie's Tunes which features guitarist Joe Puma and drummer Ed Thigpen, with Andrus swapping off bass duties with the great Oscar Pettiford. Andrus' strength as a bassist has no better description than the nickname he acquired while with Herman, "Charlie the Arm." That part of his body certainly got a workout in a version of the Herman band that is often considered one of the best from the pure jazz viewpoint.