Nelson Boyd


Nelson Boyd was active as a jazz bassist since the late '40s, hanging with some of the modernistic crowd but also associating himself with players such as Charlie Barnet and Coleman Hawkins for good measure. His relationship with trumpet pyrotechnician and goofball Dizzy Gillespie seems to have been his most enduring, beginning in the early days of the bassist's sittin-in at New York Clubs and continuing through the '50s. By then Gillesie was an established jazz star and the possibilities for his sidemen were not so shabby, including a 1956 tour of the Middle East. Boyd shows up on several important recordings from the bop era, sometimes in a rhythm section alongside greats such as pianist Thelonius Monk and drummer Max Roach. Nonetheless his most prominent impact on jazz history seems to be having what was once his nickname turn into the title of a standard tune in the genre. "Half Nelson", a Miles Davis composition that has been recorded scores of times and is surely a well-worn page in the fake books, was at one point what the hip musicians called Boyd because he was so short. The bassist made his last recordings in 1964.

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