Henry Edwards

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The man sometimes known as Bass Edwards provided plenty of that on either string bass, tuba or baritone horn--so obviously his nickname doesn't originate with the sportsman's favorite out-sized fish.…
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The man sometimes known as Bass Edwards provided plenty of that on either string bass, tuba or baritone horn--so obviously his nickname doesn't originate with the sportsman's favorite out-sized fish. Although he was active as a musician from the age of 14, his first credits as a jazz player weren't earned until the early '20s, when he began gigging with the fine bandleader Sam Wooding. Later in that decade he became associated with Duke Ellington, making the pile of his discography rise somewhat higher. Edwards was always associated with several different kinds of music, however, putting in plenty of time with a range of both dance and classical orchestras until the time of his death. His background as a so-called legitimate orchestra player dates back to his early studies at both Morris Brown and Morehouse colleges in Atlanta, with his earliest performances taking place as part of the local Odd Fellows' Band. He was in Army bands during the first World War, including the famous 350th F.A. Band led by master musician Lt. J. Tim Brymn. Following the war to end all wars, Evans became known on the Philadelphia scene as a member of several concert and dance orchestras. Prior to linking up with Wooding in 1923, the bassist had been a member of the Charlie Taylor Orchestra for several years. He left Wooding for another Charlie, this time Charlie Johnson, with whom he worked until 1925 when Evans got into the Ellington rhythm section. In the spring of 1927, Evans' touring horizon widened considerably thanks to the adventurous Leon Abbey, who took him to South America for a series of engagements. Following this, the bassist was back in New York with Allie Ross and played in the band for the hit show Blackbirds. Noble Sissle took Evans on in 1929, exporting him to Europe and featuring him on the brass bass, a stringed instrument which is just what it sounds like. At the end of the decade and into the early '30s, Evans was working with the real cream of the jazz and ragtime piano world, including Fats Waller, James P. Johnson and Eubie Blake. There were also further associations with Ross such as the Rhapsody in Black show. From 1933, Evans was a member of the Charlie Matson Orchestra, beginning the emphasis on orchestral work which continued through the balance of his career. Among the orchestras he was involved with included the New York Symphonic Band and the W.Y.N.C. Symphony Orchestra. He has sometimes been confused with another bassist and tuba player, Sumner "King" Edwards, to whom he is not related.