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
people And here is why...
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
Arts and Entertainment
Mystery man: Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in '‘Gone Girl'
films... by the director David Fincher
Life and Style
stoptober... when the patch, gum and cold turkey had all failed
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
Latest stories from i100
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

LSA Level 3 required in Caerphilly

£50 - £60 per day + plus Travel Scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The Job: O...

Welsh Year 6 Teacher required in Barry

£100 - £110 per day + Plus travel scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The Job:...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Welsh Teacher Year 2 required in Caerphilly

£100 - £105 per day + plus Travel Scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The Job:...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?