Chambers Sextet.’ I was using a lot of nylon
strings and I really needed a fine instru-
ment. I had some good instruments but
nothing compared to this one. It really
upped my game. It was as if the universe
provided this to me through Jimmy Wyble.”
During the 1950s, Wyble quilted together
an impressive schedule of session work with
band performances and his own endeavors.
In 1953, he released The Jimmy Wyble
Quintet, an album that offered a more
diverse and complex texture than some
might expect from the former Western swing
musician, although Wyble himself didn’t
really consider it jazz. The album featured an
accordion, clarinet, percussion, and bass to
round out his inventive guitar playing.
By today’s regimented and corporately
programmed standards, few musicians
cross genres as disparate as country music
and jazz. However, in the ’40s and ’50s, it
wasn’t as much of a leap as it might seem to
a contemporary music fan.
“Many hillbilly guitarists had wide-rang-
ing influences,” writes Charles McGovern in
an essay entitled “The Music: The Electric
Guitar in the American Century,” col-
lected in The Electric Guitar: A History of
an American Icon, edited by André Millard.
The author includes Wyble in a group of
musicians who were all “legends in Nashville
and West Coast studios” and were “as much
at home with jazz, swing, and even bebop
tunes as they were with fiddle tunes.”
Wyble himself probably didn’t bother
with strict genre demarcations, instead pre-
ferring to simply appreciate good guitar.
In 1956, Wyble joined Red Norvo’s group.
Known as “Mr. Swing,” the vibraphone and
xylophone player was one of the first to prove
that mallet instruments could provide viable
lead tones for jazz music. His band’s history
includes an impressive list of guitar players,
including Tal Farlow, Jimmy Raney, and Bill
Dillard. Wyble stayed with Norvo until 1965,
a tenure that included stints backing up the
Chairman of the Board himself, captured on
the concert release Frank Sinatra with the Red
Norvo Quintet: Live in Australia, 1959.