Described as “the consummate bass player,” the legendary Jim De Julio began his musical career in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: a city that has honored this favorite son by inducting him into the Pittsburgh Jazz Hall of Fame along side such jazz greats as Ray Brown, Earl Gardner, George Benson and the Tarentine Brothers.
Like a number of musicians, Jim’s first instrument, the accordion, was not the one he would later excel at as an artist. As a teenager, he went through three accordions before constructing a makeshift bass from a cardboard box, a cord from a window shade, and a broom handle. He knew immediately after hearing the pulsing heartbeat of the bass in recordings that he had found what he wanted to study musically. And study he did; while others came home from school to hang out and just relax, Jim practiced 8 to 9 hours a day on the base he purchased with a loan from his brother. Taping the paper chart of the notes and chords on the fret of the bass, Jim rehearsed and practiced with a passion.
During these formative years, Jim received classical training from Pittsburgh symphony musicians becoming a master of his instrument and an impressive arco (bow) player. The depth of this training and professional skills facilitated his creation of the “Philly’ bass sound which one can find on most of the Philly hit songs from groups like the O'Jays, the Spinners and the Stylistics.
In the early years, Jim moved to New York where he worked with prominent jazz musicians including Chet Baker, Sonny Stitt, Herbie Green, Dorothy Donegan, Philly Joe Jones, and many others too numerous to mention.
More recently he's worked with jazz greats Hank Jones, Phil Woods, Joe Wilder, Louis Nash, Russell Malone and Conti Condoli.
Vocalists he has accompanied include Anita O'Day, Nancy Wilson, Carmen McCrae, Lainie Kazan, Chris Connors, June Christy, Vie Damone, Johnny Mathis, Dionne Warwick, Sammy Davis Jr., and yes Frank Sinatra.
Jim was a member of the Frank Sinatra orchestra and played countless private parties for Frank at his home in Southern California.
For 25 years, Jim was the preferred bass player for one of his favorite friends, the late Steve Allen.
Jim was also on the staff orchestra for the Mike Douglas Show for 18 years where he played for every popular artist at the time.
Jim has recorded with Michelle LeGrande and Barry Manilow plus several albums of his own: 'It's About Time',' Facinating Jazz', The Jim De Julio Quintet' and Take It From The Bottom'.
Although he's presently known more for his upright playing, Jim is also a veteran of electric bass, as witnessed by credits like his Philly Sound sessions and the Mike Douglas show. As he explains, "I was on a lot of records with electric bass...and then I did a lot of TV series soundtracks. After the Mike Douglas show - I did that for 18 years and worked with a tremendous number of artists there -I did shows like Dynasty, Love Boat, TJ Hooker, Matt Houston, and Mission Impossible. I did mostly electric bass on all of those shows. As an active studio musician, Jim has recorded numerous sound tracks for movies and television shows including McGyver, For The Boys, Chances Are, Beverly Hills Cop III, Naked Gun and many more. Jim has appeared many times at the Playboy and Monterey Jazz Festivals and the Topeka Jazz Festival.
A common element in Jim's playing is melody — something that not all bass players are proficient in utilizing. As Jim states, "I learned something from Bill Evans years ago — he said [to] learn the melody well, not just how to play it, but play it with your heart. [Then] when you want to improvise, you can do anything. You'll sound so good on those changes because they'll always have a flavoring of where the tune came from. It's a wonderful way to make the lay- man — who doesn't really know anything about jazz — say, 'I can always hear the song when you play.' I think of myself as a horn player, like a tenor player or something. That's the way I think it should be. You have to know the instrument of course, or you're dead."