GERALD L. CANNON
Gerald L. Cannon, Musician, composer, and artist was born in Racine, Wisconsin, and is a true-life 21st century Renaissance man. For that reason one should not confuse his craft with anything but genuine, from the heart artistry.
Gerald’s initial inspiration was his father Benjamin, a guitarist, who bought him his first electric bass at 10 years old. At 16 he began playing bass in his father’s own group, The Gospel Expressions. Gerald attended the University of Wisconsin at Lacrosse, where he met jazz great Milt Hinton. This meeting changed not only Gerald’s major in college, but also the rest of his life.
At 19 Gerald transferred to the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music in Milwaukee, where he studied jazz/classical bass and piano. He also studied art at Marquette University, which nurtured a natural talent and love of painting. Outside of school, Gerald began working as musical director for vocalist Penny Goodwin, who ultimately became his single greatest mentor. This experience, combined with the subsequent creation of his own quintet Gerald Cannon’s Jazz Elements, laid the foundation for a solid reputation as a leader and composer in his own right.
In Spring of 1988 Gerald moved to New York City and began working with some of the most significant jazz artists of our time, including Art Blakey, Dexter Gordon, Cedar Walton, Billy Higgins, Jimmy Smith, Frank Foster, Little Jimmy Scott, Von Freeman, Stanley Turrentine and Bunky Green. An introduction to Roy Hargrove in 1995 lead to an historic collaboration that achieved national and international success, culminating in the contribution of Gerald’s original composition Peri to Hargrove’s recording Moment to Moment (Verve).
In 2001, Gerald left Hargrove to join the legendary drummer Elvin Jones. “Playing with Elvin is like going back to school. He continually challenges my creativity.” When not working with Elvin, Gerald fills the bass chair of the Cannonball Adderly Reunion Band with Louis Hayes. “His (Louis’) sense of swing is unbelievable.”
Gerald carries the knowledge passed on to him by legendary bassists such as Ray Brown and Sam Jones, and continues the legacy by conducting master classes throughout the U.S. and Europe. The consummate sideman, musical director, composer, educator, painter and producer, Gerald has now stepped out front as leader with the debut of his self-titled recording Gerald Cannon (Woodneck Records) in 2004.
Like the masters before him, Gerald Cannon has established a fearless, solid groove that distinguishes him as one of the principal figures in jazz.