The Official Webpage of Bassist Jymie Merritt
My father, Jymie Merritt, is the first bass player I’d ever known, and the reason why I do what I am doing today.
He had established himself in the 50’s and 60’s on recordings and gigs with Tadd Dameron, Bullmoose Jackson, B.B. King, Art Blakey, Sonny Rollins, Chet Baker, Benny Golson, Dizzy Gillespie and many others.
My mother, Dorothy, always had the house filled with great jazz sounds from artists like Ray Charles, Horace Silver, Dakota Staton, Gloria Lynne, Jimmy Smith, Charles Mingus, Wes Montgomery and some of whom, like John Coltrane and Bobby Timmons, because my father worked with them, would stop by our house every now and then.
Jymie is a classically trained player with a surging style characterized by the frequent use of triplet figures and putting notes ahead of the beat, he made a successful switch from jazz to R&B and blues and back to jazz again in the ’50s. He played with John Coltrane, Benny Golson, and Philly Joe Jones in 1949, but worked with Bull Moose Jackson and B.B. King playing electric bass in the early and mid-’50s.
He returned to jazz when he joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in the late ’50s, and also went back to the acoustic. Merritt stayed with Blakey until 1962, then recorded with Chet Baker in 1964. Jymie played with Max Roach, Dizzy Gillespie, and Lee Morgan from the mid-’60s to the early ’70s.
He created an concept that utilized musicians and performers from other disciplines known as Forerunner in 1962, a cooperative organization that was active in Philadelphia’s cultural and community activities into the late ’80s. Merritt never recorded as a leader, but can be heard on CD reissues by Morgan, Roach, and others.
Jymie is also one of the earliest Jazz musicians on the scene to use a Fender electric bass.