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Chester Zardis – Legend of The Bass!

Chester Zardis – Legend of The Bass!

Chester Zardis is a double bass player from New Orleans. Furthermore, at an early age, he gravitates to music despite his mother being against him being a musician. Because during the time he’s growing up in, music isn’t the way to go to make a living. Despite what his mother or anyone else felt. Without anyone knowing, he would sneak out of the house to take private string bass lessons from Billy Marrero.

The bandleader of the renowned Superior Orchestra who is also an established musician. Plus, Zardis buys a bass for five dollars and stores it at Marrero’s house so his mom wouldn’t find out. While he is dedicated to music, it’s a movie theater where his life takes a turn after a fight. Needless to say, this fight lands him in the Jones Waif’s Home.

But things end up working out for him in the long run because he starts playing music with another resident of the house, Louis Armstrong. He serves his time and is out of the house within a year and ready to move on with his career!

Going Professional 

Starting off after his past issues, he gets his first professional job with the Merrit Band. Furthermore, the banjo player Buddy Manaday invites him to join cornet hot shot Buddy Petit. So, they play at the preservation Jazz Hall as a gig and his mother happens to attend the same performance. Not only does she see her 16-year-old son performing with the band. They have a conversation about it! Needless to say, he tells her this is what he wants to do, and she finally allows him to perform. Even if she isn’t completely on board with it.

Playing the bass at clubs, and tuba, the bass line of the brass bands and even on the streets. Also playing with Kid Rena, the Piron’s New Orleans Orchestra, Punch Miller, Kid Howard, Jack Carey, and Fate Marable. Along with Duke Dejan’s Dixie Rhythm Band, and even Petit again, as well as with the Count Basie Band in New York. Also a few recordings in the 30s.

Zardis gave up the music life in 1954, and doesn’t return until a decade later. Playing at the Preservation Hall with some of his old friends, such as George Lewis and Percy Humphrey. Thus, another fruitful late career that lasts until Zardis passes away in 1990, at the age of 90. Years that are filled with music, at clubs, festivals, national and world tours.

Also, there’s three films about his life as the bass player, including Liberty Street Blues; Chester Zardis: Spirit of New Orleans; and Three Men of Jazz. As a master of traditional style, Zardis got a lot of sound out of the string bass, by plucking and slapping his instrument.


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Credits: All Music Guide

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