Lennie Bush

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An English jazz bassist whose formidable technique and plangent swing helped sustain remarkably high standards.
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Jazz double bassist Lennie Bush was born in London on June 6, 1927. After surviving a childhood bout with polio -- albeit enduring a permanent limp for the remainder of his life -- he studied violin, moving to double bass at the age of 16. Within a year Bush was performing professionally, first with a variety revue dubbed "the Rolling Stones and Dawn" and later with trumpeter Nat Gonella's swing band. The birth of bebop proved to have a profound impact on his musical development, and in late 1948 he was one of a number of local musicians who founded Club Eleven, the first London jazz club to offer performers a paid gig.

Bush played Club Eleven in a band featuring tenor saxophonist Ronnie Scott, trumpeter Hank Shaw, pianist Tommy Pollard, and drummer Tony Crombie, a group that virtually defined the nascent sound of British bop and influenced a generation of young players. Despite the acclaim, Bush worked continually to refine his approach, studying under James Merrett at the Guildhall School of Music; his relentless work ethic endeared him to his collaborators, and he was much sought after by overseas musicians, touring Europe with Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, Zoot Sims, and Roy Eldridge.

In 1957 Bush joined drummer Jack Parnell's ATV Orchestra; his later recording dates included sessions behind Stephane Grappelli, Anita O'Day, and Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson. In the mid-'90s Bush entered semi-retirement, although he continued practicing each day until his death on June 15, 2004.