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Ulysses Livingston

Ulysses Livingston (1912 - 1988) began his career on the east coast working with Lil Armstrong, Benny Carter, Stuff Smith and other jazz and blues musicians. He appears on early recordings by Frankie Newton who had previously used guitarists Al Casey and Teddy Bunn.

From 1939 through 1942 he recorded with a number of notable jazz artists that included Leo Watson, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Pete Johnson. The recordings made with Pete Johnson in 1939, Vine St Bustle and Some Day Blues, represented two of the earliest recorded examples of Livingston’s solo playing.

After a short stint of military service Livingston returned to the music scene working and recording in Los Angeles with Leonard Feather (Jazz at the Philharmonic and Spirits of Rhythm), Rex Stewart, Illinois Jacquet and others. He also worked in the studios in Los Angeles on recordings by singers like Nellie Lutcher, Sam Cooke, Big Red Alton and Johnny Taylor . Livingston often shared the guitar chair on these studio sessions with players like Bob Bain, Barney Kessel and Howard Roberts. Recordings from this period included work with Jack McVea and Freddie Slack. Late in his career Livingston worked as a technician in the Los Angeles studios.

Ulysses Livingston was best known as a rhythm player and he was best heard in that role in small groups like Frankie Newton’s, Rex Stewart’s and The Spirits of Rhythm. He was also a capable soloist in the tradition of Eddie Lang and Charlie Christian. Some good examples of his solo playing included Jack McVea Nothin‘ But Jazz, Freddie Slack Minor Boogie and Chopstick Boogie, Rex Stewart T‘aint Like That and Pete Johnson Some Day Blues and Vine St Bustle.

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