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Barry Kernfeld

jazz string bass player, was born Wilbur Bernard Ware in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Elijah Bernard Ware and Eleanor Broomfield. His parents separated when he was very young, and Ware went to Chicago to live with the family of a minister named Turner. Having already been exposed to African American gospel music, he began playing the drums in church at the age of eight or nine. Turner played a number of instruments, and when Ware was ten or eleven years old, Turner built him a string bass, which he began to play in what he called a “tramp band” composed of inexpensive or homemade string and percussion instruments. He also was a tap dancer during these years.

Ware worked locally in a five-piece band beginning in 1937 when he performed at the Tuxedo Inn and he received lessons from the bassist Truck Parham He was a ...