Bill Anthony

Biography

Fans of jazz tenor saxophone playing that is melodically inventive, swings hard and never strays too far from the mainstream often spend hours in the company of Al Cohn, Zoot Sims and Stan Getz. These hornmen often worked side by side in cutting contests, matching solo after solo. Here is where Bill Anthony comes in, an essential part of the rhythm section that is required to keep pumping, like an oil rig with a quota hanging over. A novice bassist's fingers would literally be bleeding keeping up with such action. Anthony, a native New Yorker whose mother got him started on piano, began his career promptly in 1950, as the styles of playing jazz that became synonymous with this era wouldn't be able to start without him. One of the most popular saxophonists of the '50s was Getz, and any collection of his records will include at least several with this bassist.


Anthony studied both cello and bass with Clyde Lombardi, and began performing in the rhythm section of the Buddy DeFranco big band in 1950. In his early days, Anthony seemed to be a sort of "band a year" guy, switching to saxophonist Georgie Auld's quintet in 1951, trumpeter Charlie Spivak in 1952, reed player Jimmy Dorsey in 1953, baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan in 1954, Getz in 1955 and pianist Claude Thornhill the following year. Maybe it was the horns that were bothering him all along, because with Thornhill he hung around an extra year. The bassist then became much more of a freelancer, but seemed to prefer small combos to big bands. He was a solid timekeeper player that loved both Ray Brown and Oscar Pettiford, although the combos of both Mulligan and Getz sometimes demanded a more restrained touch rhythmically.
 
- by Eugene Chadbourne
All Music Group