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Irving Ashby

Irving Ashby (1920–1987) was an American jazz guitarist. After playing rhythm guitar in Lionel Hampton's orchestra, he played in the Nat King Cole Trio from 1947 to 1951. He then briefly replaced Charlie Wilson, a drummer, in the Oscar Peterson Trio, producing a lineup (piano, guitar, bass) similar to the Cole Trio's; the substitution of a guitarist for a drummer continued until 1958. After leaving the Peterson Trio, Ashby concentrated on recording session work.irving ashby


Irving Ashby  began playing the guitar at age nine. As a teenager he played with local bands in and around Somerville, Massachusetts. In 1940 he joined Lionel Hampton’s band and he continued playing with Hampton for two years until 1942. In 1947 Ashby joined Nat King Cole’s Trio replacing Oscar Moore.

From the 1950’s on Ashby worked in and around Los Angeles as a freelance musician. He joined Oscar Peterson’s group in 1952 and he was a prominent member of Norman Granz’s Jazz At the Philharmonic at that time. He was also a studio player at MGM and 20th Century Fox and he led his own Sextet and recorded with the Sextet at United Artists.

Ashby settled permanently in Perris, California where he was active as a teacher both privately and at the University of California at Riverside and local high schools. He published a guitar instruction book entitled Guitar.

The list of prominent jazz players that Irving Ashby worked with is a long one. Starting with Hampton and Cole he went on to play with Erroll Garner, Count Basie, Phil Moore, Nellie Lutcher, Lester Young Charles Mingus, Illinois Jacquet and many more. As a member of Arv Garrison’s Guitar Quintet, that included Garrison, Kessel, Sargent and Rizzi, he appeared on Earle Spencer’s “Five Guitars In Flight”. He also shared the guitar chair with Howard Roberts on Dick Marks’ Marks Makes Broadway and he played on Mundell Lowe’s California Guitar.

Irving Ashby was in demand primarily for his solid rhythm playing, but he was also a very adept soloist.