Lennie Bush

Dependable jazz double-bassist and early bebop enthusiast

An old jazz-world maxim used to be "If you are forming a band, always start by hiring a really good double-bass player." Another word of advice often passed on to aspiring jazz improvisers was "If you get into trouble during your solo, listen to the bass line."

Leonard Walter Bush, double-bass player: born London 6 June 1927; married (one son); died 15 June 2004.

An old jazz-world maxim used to be "If you are forming a band, always start by hiring a really good double-bass player." Another word of advice often passed on to aspiring jazz improvisers was "If you get into trouble during your solo, listen to the bass line."

Lennie Bush totally understood and unfailingly provided the instrument's primary functions in ensemble performance. Throughout a 60-year career he dedicated himself to laying down an unerring sense of time, rich tone, and perfect harmonic direction. Over the past 20 years young double-bass virtuosi with flying fingers have been appearing from all continents. Lennie Bush admired them, but concentrated on the crucial business of underpinning the band with the most luxuriant and dependable of suspension systems. Colleagues gratefully came to realise that there would be no bumpy rides with Bush.

Lennie Bush was born in 1927 at Shepherd's Bush in west London and was a childhood victim of polio. It left him with a permanent limp, but in his adult years his arrival at a gig, with rolling gait and handsome, craggy smile, gave musicians and fans a feeling of pleasant expectation. He studied violin as a youngster, but, as Louis Armstrong put it, "the doggone thing grew up on him".

His move to the biggest and lowest-pitched member of the violin family happened when he was 16, and a year later, in 1944, he was working the halls as a member of a variety act called "The Rolling Stones and Dawn". Next came jobs with a variety of dance bands. He also toured regularly with the swing-style jazz trumpeter Nat Gonella's band (which included the emerging stars Kenny Graham and Phil Seaman), and with the smooth British-based American Roy Fox.

The arrival from America of the new and complex bebop sounds in jazz had happily coincided with Bush's arrival on the British jazz scene. He was one of the many young men (Ronnie Scott and John Dankworth among them) who set about discovering everything they could about the new musical developments, and in December 1948 was one of the coterie of enthusiasts who founded Club Eleven in a rehearsal room in Windmill Street, London.

From this Soho base came the first accomplished British bebop sounds. Dankworth says "Lennie was there, and for half a century he occupied the throne as Britain's most senior bebop bassist." Many younger up-and-coming bassists came to listen, and learn. The veteran Spike Heatley says,

Lennie was the most influential player in my early career. He was never flashy, and although his technique was unorthodox he could really drive and anchor a rhythm section. He could even make poor drummers play good time.

He worked on his technique, studying with James Merret Snr at the Guildhall School of Music and consequently became "a man for all sessions". Through the following decades Bush remained busy as both jazzman and studio musician, playing for films, television, commercials and albums. The sheer quality and dependability of his playing was appreciated by everyone, and he developed musical associations with top names like Ronnie Scott, Jimmy Deucher, Victor Feldman, Dizzy Reece, Tony Kinsey, Tony Crombie, Alan Clare, Stan Tracey, Kenny Baker and Don Lusher. One particularly close relationship was with the drummer and bandleader Jack Parnell, whose ATV Orchestra Lennie joined in 1957.

He was also in demand with overseas jazz stars, touring with Benny Goodman several times in Europe, appearing with Louis Armstrong in London in 1956, and accompanying many others, including Zoot Sims, Roy Eldridge, Joe Pass and Stephane Grappelli.

Lennie Bush and his wife Anne moved out of the London area a few years ago to Long Melford in Suffolk. Although semi-retired, he continued to practise assiduously each day and post to friends cassettes containing music which he had discovered and was enthusiastic about.

Campbell Burnap



Suggested Topics
News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Sport
Thiago Silva pulls Arjen Robben back to concede a penalty
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: More misery for hosts as Dutch take third place
Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
Van Persie gives bronze medal to eccentric fan moments after being handed it by Blatter
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
scienceScientists have developed a material so dark you can't see it...
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
News
Soft power: Matthew Barzun
peopleThe US Ambassador to London, Matthew Barzun, holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence. He says it's all part of the job
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
News
Gavin Maxwell in Sandaig with one of his pet otters
peopleWas the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?
News
Rowsell says: 'Wearing wigs is a way of looking normal. I pick a style and colour and stick to it because I don't want to keep wearing different styles'
peopleThe World Champion cyclist Joanna Rowsell on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?