Chris Conner

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There is only one punishment suitable for the myriad journalists, discographers, editors and what-not who have managed to mangle the names of big band vocalist Chris Connor and jazz bassist Chris Conner…
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There is only one punishment suitable for the myriad journalists, discographers, editors and what-not who have managed to mangle the names of big band vocalist Chris Connor and jazz bassist Chris Conner beyond any simple sort of corrective solution. They should be shackled and forced to write an extended review of performances in which vocalist Connor was actually backed by the west coast bassist Conner -- and deliver it without a single typographical error. Unfortunately, an editor would have to be found to supervise said punishment, one capable of perceiving the differences between these surnames as well as Connors, Conners, and so forth and so on.

The fact that the vocalist's name has been so routinely befouled by spelling problems hasn't seemed to hurt either his reputation or his record sales. For the bassist, this and a variety of other coincidences that could perhaps be dubbed "Conner-incidences" must add up to as big a pain in the neck as a drummer who can't keep time. There also happens to be a drummer named Chris Conner who has recorded with the Channing Cope band; this drummer also just happens to live in San Diego, the same city the bassist uses as a home base. The regional director of a Texas bass fishing organization was even named Chris Conner at one point, a development that at least adds some variety, perhaps even a large sizzling fish in the pan, to the problems of mistaken identity faced by this bassist.

Among the many well-known jazzmen Conner has accompanied, one of his best-known affiliations was with the haunted, doomed trumpeter, vocalist and bandleader Chet Baker. At least Conner was not accused of pushing Baker out the window of the Prins Hendriks Hotel in Amsterdam -- that honor may possibly belong to a ghost, although conventional wisdom is that Baker himself was responsible. The source of what must be assumed to be the absolute correct spelling of the bassist's name would be the first album released under his own name, The Journey -- few artists will spell their own name wrong on their own album, although it has happened. Conner had already been active in mainstream jazz for close to two decades when recording began on The Journey. Meanwhile discographer Tom Lord missed out on him almost completely, most likely due to the surname "Fubar." He does credit a Chris Conner for two bass sessions in 1980, but four years later comes up with a Chris Connors on bass for some 1984 tracks -- a typical error, but at least Lord consistently gets the name of the vocalist right.

Conner began playing bass at the age of 15. His professional career started in Toronto, quite a distance from the beaches of San Diego but the home of an equally vibrant jazz scene. Conner's early associates were bandleaders such as the flautist Moe Koffman and the fine guitarist Ed Bickert. Upon relocating to the West Coast, he quickly established himself as a bassist in demand, working with the Los Angeles Swing Savant group, the Hollis Gentry III Acoustic Quartet and Bruce Cameron's Latin Jazz Ensemble, among many other affiliations. A long list of name players he has accompanied on the West Coast includes the vocalist Connor, representing an instance when the plural form of the surname would at least describe the situation on-stage, even if no agreement will ever be reached on which final vowel should be used. Conner is also an excellent arranger and composer. He formed his own Chris Conner Sextet in 1994. His arrangement of "The Girl I Dream About" was featured on the Bobby Caldwell album entitled Blue Condition.