born on 6/3/1918 in Richmond, VA, United States
died on 8/3/1992 in Saugus, CA, United States
George Sylvester "Red" Callender (March 6, 1916 – March 8, 1992) was an American string bass and tuba player. He is perhaps best known as a jazz musician, but worked with an array of pop, rock and vocal acts as a member of The Wrecking Crew, a group of first-call session musicians in Los Angeles.
Callender was born in Haynesville, Virginia. In the early 1940s, he played in the Lester and Lee Young band, and then formed his own trio. In the 1940s Callender recorded with Nat King Cole, Erroll Garner, Charlie Parker, Wardell Gray, Dexter Gordon, Uffe Baadh [Frank Bode] and many others. After a period spent leading a trio in Hawaii, Callender returned to Los Angeles, becoming one of the first black musicians to work regularly in the commercial studios, including backing singer Linda Hayes on two singles. He made his recording debut at 19 with Louis Armstrong's band. However, he later turned down offers to work with Duke Ellington's Orchestra and the Louis Armstrong All-Stars.
On his 1957 Crown LP Speaks Low, Callender was one of the earliest modern jazz tuba soloists. Keeping busy up until his death, some of the highlights of the bassist's later career include recording with Art Tatum and Jo Jones (1955–1956) for the Tatum Group, playing with Charles Mingus at the 1964 Monterey Jazz Festival, working with James Newton's avant-garde woodwind quintet (on tuba), and performing as a regular member of the Cheatham's Sweet Baby Blues Band. He also reached the top of the British pop charts as a member of B. Bumble and the Stingers. In November 1964 he was introduced and highlighted in performance with entertainer Danny Kaye in a duet on the Fred Astaire introduced George and Ira Gershwin song, Slap That Bass, for Kaye's CBS-TV variety show.
Callender died of thyroid cancer at his home in Saugus, California.
- 1956: Swingin' Suite (Modern)
- 1957: Red Callender Speaks Low (Crown)
- 1958: The Lowest (MetroJazz)
- 1973: Basin Street Brass (Legend)
- 1984: Night Mist Blues (Hemisphere)
- ¿? : Red Callender Sextet & Fourtette
With Louis Bellson
- Big Band Jazz from the Summit (Roulette, 1962)
With Judy Carmichael
- Pearls (Jazzology, 1985)
With Benny Carter
- Cosmopolite (Norgran, 1954)
With John Carter
- Dauwhe (Black Saint, 1982)
With Buddy Collette
- Man of Many Parts (Contemporary, 1956)
- Porgy & Bess (Interlude 1957 )
- Jazz Loves Paris (Speciality, 1958)
With Maynard Ferguson
- Maynard Ferguson Octet (EmArcy, 1955)
With Dizzy Gillespie
- The New Continent (Limelight, 1962)
With Johnny Hodges
- In a Tender Mood (Norgran, 1952 )
- The Blues (Norgran, 1952–54, )
With Paul Horn
- Plenty of Horn (Dot, 1958)
- Jazz Suite on the Mass Texts (RCA Victor, 1965) with Lalo Schifrin
With Plas Johnson
- This Must Be the Plas (Capitol, 1959)
With B.B. King
- Singin' the Blues (Crown, 1956)
Wirh Mavis Rivers and Shorty Rogers
- Mavis Meets Shorty (Riverside, 1963)
With Pete Rugolo
- Rugolo Plays Kenton (EmArcy, 1958)
- The Original Music of Thriller (Time, 1961)
With Gerald Wilson
- Calafia (Trend, 1985)
With Rickie Lee Jones
- Rickie Lee Jones (1979)
- Callender, Red; Cohen, Elaine (1985). Unfinished Dream: The Musical World of Red Callender. Introduction by Stanley Dance. Quartet Books. ISBN 978-0704325074.
- Hudson, Berkley (10 March 1992). "Red Callender; Jazz Bass Player and Tuba Virtuoso". Los Angeles Times.