In 1949 bassist Oscar Pettiford broke his arm playing baseball. He could still move his fingers even though his arm was in a sling, so he began experimenting with a cello a friend had lent to him. He tuned the cello like a bass only an octave higher and later made history recording a series of cello-led projects including the great, under-recognized 1964 Fantasy release, "My Little Cello."
When I look to history for a role model, it’s Pettiford. Pettiford played the cello with such swing and melody. He was one of the first to lead a band from behind the cello. And he wrote original tunes, some of which are now classics. Pettiford had a special feel for the instrument -- he even named his son Cello! And his twin daughters Celeste and Cellina. He’s always been a hero of mine.
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