Instruments: Trombone, Bandleader
Date of Birth: June 18, 1924
Place of Birth: Birmingham, Alabama

Jimmy Cheatham, bass trombonist and bandleader, and Jeannie Cheatham singer and pianist, are a husband and wife team that falls into a Kansas City-style jazz-blues category. Although Jimmy Cheatham is formally trained, having studied at the New York Conservatory of Modern Music and other institutes, and possesses a jazz sophistication, a good portion of his and his wife's catalogue is blues-based.

The two musicians met in 1956 and married in 1959. In the ;50s Jeannie Cheatham worked with Dakota Staton, Jimmy Rushing, Jimmy Witherspoon, and other jazz and jazz-based blues artists. While living in New York in the 1960s Jimmy Cheatham worked as Chico Hamilton's music director, and in 1972 worked briefly with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. To complement their performance careers, Jimmy Cheatham taught in the jazz program, first at Benington College in Vermont, then at the University of Wisconsin in Madison in the mid ‘70s. Currently Cheatham heads the jazz studies program at the University of California at San Diego.

In 1983 Jeannie Cheatham was featured in the documentary Three Generations of Blues, with singers Sippie Wallace and Big Mama Thornton. Increased exposure led to a recording contract with Concord Records a year later. The Cheathams also ran weekly jam sessions in two San Diego hotels, the Sheraton and Bahia, from 1978 to 1984. When Jimmy Cheatham isn't teaching, the duo tours with its band, Sweet Baby Blues. The Cheathams' most recent album, Blues and the Boogie Masters, was released on Concord in 1993.

Essential Listening: Sweet Baby Blues / Concord (CJ 258)
Midnight Mama / Concord (CJ 297)
Homeward Bound / Concord (CJ 321)
Back to the Neighborhood / Concord (CJ 373)
Luv in the Afternoon / Concord (CCD 4429)
Basket Full of Blues / Concord (CCD 4501)

page 88, The Big Book of Blues: A Biographical Encyclopedia by Robert Santelli

Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame

Jimmy Cheatham (June 18, 1924 – January 12, 2007)[1] was an American jazz trombonist and teacher who played with Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton and Ornette Coleman. In 1978, Cheatham was invited to head the jazz program at University of California, San Diego and, in 1979, he was appointed head of the African American and jazz performance programme there. He retired in 2005.

Born in Birmingham, Alabama,[1] it was while serving in the United States Army during and just after World War II, that Cheatham played in the 173rd Army Ground Force Band.

Cheatham met his wife, Jean Evans, in 1956 in Buffalo, New York, when the local musicians' union chief called them separately to replace two musicians who could not make a job at the local Elks Ballroom. They married in 1959.

In the mid-1980s Cheatham formed The Sweet Baby Blues Band with his wife. The Sweet Baby Blues Band played Kansas City style blues. Cheatham's Sweet Baby Blues album won a French Grand Prix du Disque. Their album Luv in the Afternoon was voted blues album of the year in a 1991 critics poll in Down Beat magazine.

Cheatham also taught jazz at Bennington College in Vermont and at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin.

Cheatham's legacy is carried on by several students who went on to become, like him, prominent composer/performer/educators: flutist Nicole Mitchell, bassist Karl E. H. Seigfried, and drummer Vikas Srivastava.

Cheatham died in San Diego, California, in January 2007 following heart surgery, at the age of 82.


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