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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Roll 'Em Pete - Jeannie Cheatham

Jeannie Cheatham, along with her husband, bass trombonist Jimmy Cheatham, has co-led "the Cheathams" (also known as the Sweet Baby Blues Band) since the mid-1980s. It is surprising that more groups have not tried to emulate this band, for the Cheathams perform music that crosses over between Kansas City-type swing and blues, always featuring several notable horn players, Jeannie's vocals and plenty of spirit. Their music is very accessible and swinging, yet creative within the swing tradition.
Jeannie Cheatham started studying piano when she was five, became a professional early on, and worked with Big Mama Thornton on and off for ten years. She gigged with a variety of top blues greats, including T-Bone Walker, Dinah Washington, Jimmy Witherspoon and Joe Williams, and in 1984 she toured with Cab Calloway. Jimmy Cheatham through the years has played bass trombone with Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton, Thad Jones and in a backup group with Ornette Coleman. the Cheathams, who met and married in the 1950s, worked with Chico Hamilton (Jimmy was Hamilton's musical director for a time) in the '60s, and they both taught at the University of Wisconsin before moving to San Diego in 1978. Jimmy taught at the University of California at San Diego for many years. Since forming their enjoyable band, the Cheathams have recorded regularly for Concord (starting in 1984) with such sidemen as trumpeters Snooky Young and Clora Bryant, Jimmie Noone Jr. on tenor and clarinet, altoist Curtis Peagler, bassist Red Callender, Rickey Woodard on tenor and clarinet, and many guests (altoists Charles, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson and Hank Crawford, tenorman Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, violinist Papa John Creach and guitarist Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown), performing their fresh and happy version of Kansas City jazz at a countless number of festivals and concerts.
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