The All Music Guide to Jazz describes Bob Cranshaw as a jazz “veteran who’s never been a giant, but is well-respected for consistent excellence.” Judging by the consistently excellent company he kept, that appears to be unquestionably true. Sonny Rollins, Wes Montgomery, Coleman Hawkins, Johnny Rodgers, McCoy Tyner, Thelonious Monk, George Shearing, Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson are among the jazz luminaries with whom he recorded or performed. In the 1960s, he appeared on more recordings for the Blue Note jazz label than any other bass player.
Cranshaw (December 10, 1932-November 2, 2016) spent 50 years with Rollins, beginning with a gig at the Playboy Jazz Festival in Chicago in 1959. Describing his relationship with Rollins in a YouTube video, Cranshaw said “If it’s a football team, I’m blocking for Sonny to run the touchdown.”
Cranshaw began his music training on the piano and drums, but moved to bass and tuba in high school. In addition to his jazz career, Cranshaw spent 25 years with Sesame Street, recording its theme song as well as other popular numbers. He was also in the original studio band for Saturday Night Live.