|I was looking for the date of Milt's death and found this website. I read the Scotsman's article and was excited to see that there was a readers' comments page. However, no comments!
Let me, as the blurb upon opening the page says, be the first.
This past December we lost one of the greatest jazz bass players of all time: The Judge, Milt Hinton. Milt played on literally thousands of recordings with everyone from Billy Holiday to Paul McCartney. There is not a bass player alive today who has not been influenced by Milt Hinton. He was 90.
I attended school as a music major in NY at Hunter College. Milt taught a jazz workshop at Hunter and I was lucky enough to be attending the school the year Milt came aboard. The workshop format was not so much instructional as it was interactive. We were encouraged to bring in arrangements written with the other musicians, our classmates, in mind. Milt would listen and critique. He was straighforward in his praise and in his criticsm. It was always constructive, never harsh. The guest musicians he brought to class to talk with us were a who's who of greats — Clark Terry, Bobby Rosengarden, Barry Galbraith, Zoot Sims, many others. At first I couldn’t get past calling him Mr. Hinton out of a sense of awe. This always bugged him and he asked that I call him Milt. I eventually felt comfortable enough to do so.
Milt's style was so instinctive that he actually had a hard time articulating the information many of us tried to draw out of him. But more often than not the innateness of his approach helped dispell some of the mystery of jazz technique and gave many of us a clearer understanding of the fundamentals. Milt's music was not based on years of a complicated, painstaking dissection of theory. He, of course, lived through the inception and even helped develop much of that theory. His understanding was purely organic—Milt WAS the music!
Milt never got a driver’s license, his wife Mona drove him to all his gigs. He never smoked, took drugs and I’m not even sure if he drank. He always joked, “I’m not drinking anymore...I’m not drinking any less!” But I never saw him with a drink. What a heart the man had. He was one of the busiest and most sought after studio musicians at the time. Yet when I was having trouble trying to figure out an arrangement he suggested I come to his house in Queens, NY on a Saturday and we’d work on it together. Mona served orange juice and crackers and we spent the entire afternoon together working on the arrangement. He showed me his photographs—his other passion. Milt often (usually) documented his studio gigs in pictures and his portfolio of photos is among the greatest visual testimonies to that era. He gave me a photo of Billy Holiday that he had taken. The photo of her holding a glass and looking like the blues had gotten the best of her, is not the Lady Day we see on album covers. This is emotion few but bandmates ever got to see.
I remember another time I w