Pianist Bobby Timmons came out of Philadelphia at age 19, with a funky gospel tinged piano style, combined with hard bop and the blues to create a sound which dominated much of jazz during the late 1950s and early 1960s. He would, in a recording career that would only span a short time frame, contribute to some of the best recordings on the legendary Blue Note sessions of the ’50’s.
His musical resume for the period between 1956 and 1969 is very impressive. He was with Kenny Dorham and the Jazz Prophets in 1956, which also included Kenny Burrell on guitar. In the years ’56 through ’57 he was with Chet Baker. The year 1957 would be a very productive and busy one as he worked and recorded with Hank Mobely, Sonny Stitt, Lee Morgan, and Curtis Fuller. In the same year and into ’58 was in Maynard Fergusons’ band, and also did session dates with Art Pepper and Kenny Burrell.
He took over the piano chair in Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers in 1958 at the age of 23. It was in period, that he wrote the classic “Moanin”, that would be a defining tune for that band, and one of his signature tunes throughout his career. He jumped over to the Cannonball Adderley Quintet in ’59 where he then wrote two big hits for them in “Dis Here” and “Dat Dere”. He stayed with Adderley into ’60 then rejoined the Messengers.
His output was amazing for the time, as it seems in looking at the chronological order of dates, he must have been constantly in the studio, this not counting the live dates on the road.
In twelve short years, Timmons created a musical catalogue which rivals that of some of the most influential and prolific artists in jazz. The influence of his signature blend of hard bop can still be heard in the fingers of many pianists today.