Milt Hinton was widely regarded as the dean of jazz bassists. Born in 1910 in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Milt’s career began in Chicago with Boyd Atkins, Jabbo Smith, and in 1931, Eddie South. He played with Freddie Keppard, Zutty Singleton, and Erskine Tate. In 1936, Milt joined Cab Calloway and stayed with him until 1951. During this period he recorded with Lionel Hampton, Billie Holiday, Ethel Waters, and Teddy Wilson.
After leaving Cab, he began a long free-lance career in New York City. He has toured overseas with Pearl Bailey and Bing Crosby as well as stints with Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and the Louis Armstrong All-Stars. Other credits include many television, radio, and motion picture sound-track performances, as well as Paul Anka, Harry Belafonte, Tony Bennett, Sam Cooke, Sammy Davis, Jr., Patti LaBelle, Bette Midler, Frank Sinatra, Barbara Streisand, Quincy Jones, Paul McCartney, and Guy Lombardo. He was one of the most-recorded musicians in the history of the business.
At the 1995 Summit Jazz Weekend in Denver, Milt was a member of the Bob Wilber All-Stars. Wilber introduced him saying that he possesses “..the strongest pulse of any bass player in the world.” He is also the master of the “slap” bass technique that originated in New Orleans with Bill Johnson (born in 1872), a man Milt knew during his early Chicago days. Jazz historian Richard Hadlock has described Milt’s slapping as “…a living link with the New Orleans bass style.”
Milt had a keen interest in passing along the jazz tradition to younger generations and was eager to share his knowledge with music students of all ages. In recent years, he was a featured professor at the Manhattan School of Music.
A parallel career for Milt was jazz photography. Some of his outstanding photos (there are 35,000 negatives) of jazz greats have been compiled in two books, Bass Line and Over Time, by Milt Hinton, David G. Berger, and Holly Maxson (Pomegranite Artbooks, Box 808022, Petaluma, CA 94975.)
Milt Hinton died December 19, 2000 in New York City.