Jimmy Shirley


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photograph of Jimmy Shirley

Jimmy Shirley (James Arthur Shirley, May 31, 1913, Union, SC - December 3, 1989, New York, NY) was an American jazz guitarist.

A talented swing guitarist who was one of the earlier electric guitarists, Jimmy Shirley never achieved much fame (except among fellow musicians) despite his long career and obvious talents. He grew up in Cleveland, Ohio where he was taught guitar by his father. Shirley worked in Cincinnati with J. Frank Terry and Hal Draper (1934-36) and had his own group before moving to New York. Shirley was a part of the Clarence Profit Trio (1937-41), with whom he made his recording debut. After a period with Ella Fitzgerald (1942-43), Shirley played on and off with Herman Chittison (1944-54) and led his own bands in addition to working with Phil Moore and lesser-known names. He started doubling on electric bass in the early 1960's including with Buddy Tate (1967). Shirley, who recorded with Wynonie Harris, Jimmy Rushing, Screamin Jay Hawkins and Little Willie John . Also with Rose Murphy, Barbara Lea, Artie Shaw (1941), Edmond Hall und Coleman Hawkins (1943), James P. Johnson, Sidney De Paris, Art Hodes (1944), Herman Chittison (1944/45), Leonard Feather (1945), Earl Bostic, Pete Brown, Sid Catlett, John Hardee, Billie Holiday, Pete Johnson, Billy Kyle, Ram Ramirez (1946), Johnny Guarnieri (1975) and Stephane Grappelli (1978).
He recorded a single number ("Jimmy's Blues") as a leader for Blue Note (1945) and headed just one album, a quartet set for Black & Blue in 1975.
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