Jack Fallon

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The premier British jazz bassist of the postwar era, Jack Fallon had a thick, rich tone that redefined the instrument for successive generations to follow. Born in London, Ontario, on October 13, 1915,…
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The premier British jazz bassist of the postwar era, Jack Fallon had a thick, rich tone that redefined the instrument for successive generations to follow. Born in London, Ontario, on October 13, 1915, Fallon first adopted the violin before switching to bass at age 20 -- while serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II, he played as a member of the RCAF Streamliners dance band, and remained in Britain when his tour of duty ended. In April 1946 Fallon joined Ted Heath's famed big band, moonlighting in support of London's fledgling bebop community -- in stark contrast to the leaden bassists who defined the U.K. jazz culture up to that time, Fallon proved a nimble, fluidly rhythmic player with an unerring sense of swing, and his stature quickly grew.

He left Heath's ranks that September and in 1947 performed alongside future saxophone greats Ronnie Scott and Tommy Whittle at the landmark Melody Maker/Columbia Jazz Rally -- from there, Fallon signed on with trumpeter Jack Jackson, and in 1948 toured and recorded behind pianist George Shearing. As his stature grew, he became the first-call bassist for visiting musicians, backing Django Reinhardt in the spring of 1949 and weeks later joining guitarist Malcolm Mitchell and drummer Tony Crombie to support Count Basie. Fallon, Mitchell, and Crombie continued their collaboration after their tenure with Basie ended, accompanying American singers Hoagy Carmichael and Maxine Sullivan before mounting an eight-week Swedish tour behind Reinhardt and St├ęphane Grappelli.

The Beatles [White Album]
During the 1950s Fallon's profile remained high via tours in support of Mary Lou Williams, Sarah Vaughan, and Lena Horne -- he also worked with bandleaders Humphrey Lyttleton, Kenny Baker, and Ralph Sharon, and served as the house bassist at Landsdowne Studios. As the years passed he expanded outside of jazz, backing American bluesmen Big Bill Broonzy and Josh White and joining the ranks of Johnny Duncan's Blue Grass Boys. Fallon was also instrumental in legitimizing the new bass guitar, and he moved effortlessly between acoustic and electric instruments for the remainder of his career. In 1952, he even founded his own booking agency, Cana Variety, which initially specialized in jazz but over time built a client list that included fledgling rock & roll acts the Beatles and the Rolling Stones; years later, when the Beatles required a violinist to complete "Don't Pass Me By," a track on their so-called White Album, Fallon was recruited for the session. He remained a fixture of the London club scene as well as an in-demand session musician until the mid-'90s, and in 2005 published his memoirs, From the Top. Fallon died in London on May 22, 2006, at the age of 90.