Nathan Gershman

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This cellist studied classical music at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, then played with the Cleveland Symphony, but stepped right into the modern jazz annals when he replaced Fred Katz…
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This cellist studied classical music at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, then played with the Cleveland Symphony, but stepped right into the modern jazz annals when he replaced Fred Katz in the rhythm section of drummer Chico Hamilton's clever combo in the second half of the '50s. The presence of Eric Dolphy on woodwinds was not even required to establish said combo as forward-looking: just having a cello in a jazz group was enough. Listeners are so unfamiliar with the idea that in most cases they can't even recognize the instrument, evidenced by this infamous comment concerning cellist Tom Cora: "Why do y'all want to use an oboe instead of a bass?"

Nathan Gershman, sometimes credited more informally as Nat, can actually be heard alongside oboe player Scott Page on the original 1972 Geronimo Black album, just in case someone wants to figure out the difference between a cello and an oboe in one extremely enjoyable sitting. By this time the cellist had moved to the West Coast and his musical journey encompassed stops at many diverse pop music ports. The wide range of music acceptable for radio airplay in that era inspired many artists to experiment with the kind of expanded orchestration that results in cello players getting phone calls. Gershman can be heard on Neil Diamond's early Uni sessions as well as classical vocal music material from Rosemary Clooney and Doris Day. On some of these sessions he was also employed as the contractor, hiring all the other musicians.