Biography
The name of Spanky DeBrest will come up in discussions of hip rhythm sections; that is as inevitable as the sunset. The combination of the bassist's surname and nicknames may seem like something on the menu at a paddle party -- the background music would have to be Spanky Wanky, a tune written in dedication to DeBrest by fellow Philly jazz renegade Alfie Pollitt. That song, however, is a downright obscure DeBrest reference compared to the sides with which many jazz listeners literally become abreast of DeBrest. His most famous affiliation is with master drummer Art Blakey on a series of recordings that includes a spellbinding collaboration with pianist and composer Thelonious Monk.

DeBrest's simply terrific discography also includes hard bop material from John Coltrane and Clifford Jordan, liner notes occasionally listing the bassist as Jimmy DeBrest. Perhaps the "Spanky" nickname was created in order to avoid confusion with one of the bassist's earliest bandleaders, Jimmy De Priest. More likely, it was an attempt to describe one aspect of his signature sound, a string slap that would surely redden flesh. Lee Morgan was still a teenager when DeBrest was in the rhythm section of the virtuoso trumpeter's earliest Philly band. They both went on to join Blakey, the bassist remaining in the drummer's Jazz Messengers through 1958. DeBrest continued recording until 1971, two years before his death. ~ Eugene Chadbourne, Rovi




 
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