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Bob Haggart: 1914-1998
Bob Haggart
Bass, composer, arranger

Born: March 13, 1914 in New York City, New York
Died: December 2, 1998 in Venice, Florida

The Big Noise is Silenced

Copyright © 1999 

The Scotsman, 1999

Haggart, Bob The death of Bob Haggart has ended the long and highly distinguished jazz career of the man who will always be associated with the celebrated bass and drums duet he concocted with Ray Bauduc for the Bob Crosby band, "The Big Noise from Winnetka".

He was born in New York City, but grew up in Douglaston, Long Island. He began lessons on guitar as a teenager, and also dabbled in piano and trumpet before switching to double bass at 17, an instrument on which he was self-taught. He played in a number of local dance bands before emerging to national prominence in his first major job with the Bob Crosby Band.

The band allowed him to develop his reputation not only as a bass player, but also as an arranger and composer, and if "The Big Noise from Winnetka" is the most feted of his creations, his clever arrangements were central to the band's sophisticated Dixieland-based sound. Another of his compositions from this era, "What's New", eventually furnished a big hit for Linda Ronstadt several decades later.

Haggart also performed in Crosby's smaller group, The Bob Cats, and went on to work in a remarkably diverse number of settings after the band broke up in 1942. His adaptability has always been legendary, and he worked with an astonishing roster of major names, including Louis Armstrong (he is heard on the Town Hall concert recording of 1947), Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan, Charlie Parker (in the famous "with strings" session recorded for Norman Granz), Eddie Condon, Muggsy Spanier and Jack Teagarden, among others.

Haggart also worked extensively in television, including writing advertising jingles, but always in tandem with performing. He first worked with trumpeter Yank Lawson in the Crosby band, and they co-led the Lawson-Haggart Jazz Band between more commercial studio engagements in the Fifties, before co-founding the rather grandly named World's Greatest Jazz Band in 1968, a group which become something of a figurehead for the traditional jazz movement which blossomed in its wake.

The band toured Europe on several occasions, and although it folded in 1978, was subsequently revived for further appearances in the ensuing decades. Haggart settled in Forida in the early Nineties, and continued to perform and record until very recently, working with the likes of clarinetist Kenny Davern and saxophonist Bob Wilber. His buoyant, hard swinging style was always a popular ingredient, whatever the setting.

He is survived by a son, Bob Haggart, Jr.

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