Although he had a fairly long career, Jim Lanigan will always be most famous for his participation on some important early Chicago jazz recordings during the 1920s. Both of his parents were musicians and he was well-trained on violin and piano early on. Lanigan played piano and drums a bit with the Austin High School Blue Friars before deciding to concentrate on bass and tuba. Part of the Austin High School Gang, Lanigan worked with Husk O'Hare (1925), Red McKenzie's Mound City Blue Blowers, and Art Kassel's band (1926-1927). He was on the famous McKenzie-Condon Chicagoans recordings of 1927 and also recorded with the Chicago Rhythm Kings and the Jungle Kings. However Lanigan often worked outside of jazz. He spent four years (1927-1931) with the commercial band of Ted Fio Rito, worked for NBC in Chicago, and was frequently on the radio in staff orchestras. Occasionally the bassist would be persuaded to record as a sideman in jazz settings including with Jimmy McPartland (1939), Bud Jacobson's Jungle Kings (1945), Bud Freeman (1946), and Danny Alvin (1950), but he settled into performing regularly with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (1937-1948) and in the studios. Jim Lanigan, who lived to be 81 and was always happy to participate in the various reunions of the Austin High School Gang, never led his own record date.
by Scott Yanow