|Also known as||"Brownie"|
October 30, 1930|
Wilmington, Delaware, United States
|Died||June 26, 1956
Bedford, Pennsylvania, United States
|Genres||Jazz, Bebop, Hard bop|
|Associated acts||Max Roach, Harold Land, Lionel Hampton, Sonny Rollins|
Clifford Brown (October 30, 1930 – June 26, 1956), aka "Brownie," was an American jazz trumpeter. He died at the age of 25 in a car accident, leaving behind only four years' worth of recordings. Nonetheless, he had a considerable influence on later jazz trumpet players, including Donald Byrd, Lee Morgan, Booker Little, and Freddie Hubbard, among others. He was also a composer of note: two of his compositions, "Joy Spring" and "Daahoud", have become jazz standards.
Brown was born into a musical family in a progressive East-Side neighborhood of Wilmington, Delaware. His father organized his four youngest sons, including Brown, into a vocal quartet. Around age ten, Brown started playing trumpet at school after becoming fascinated with the shiny trumpet his father owned. At age thirteen, upon entering senior high, his father bought him his own trumpet and provided him with private lessons. As a junior in high school, he received lessons from Robert Boysie Lowery and played in "a jazz group that Lowery organized." He even began making trips to Philadelphia. Brown took pride in his neighborhood and earned a good education from Howard High.
Brown briefly attended Delaware State University as a math major, before he switched to Maryland State College which was a more prosperous musical environment. As Nick Catalano points out, Brown's trips to Philadelphia grew in frequency after he graduated from high school and entered Delaware State University; it could be said that, although his dorm was in Dover, his classroom was in Philadelphia. Brown played in the fourteen-piece, jazz-oriented, Maryland State Band. In June 1950, he was seriously injured in a car accident after a successful gig. During his year-long hospitalization, Dizzy Gillespie visited the younger trumpeter and pushed him to pursue his musical career. Brown's injuries limited him to the piano for months; he never fully recovered and would routinely dislocate his shoulder for the rest of his life. Brown moved into playing music professionally, where he quickly became one of the most highly regarded trumpeters in jazz.
He was influenced and encouraged by Fats Navarro, sharing Navarro's virtuosic technique and brilliance of invention. His sound was warm and round, and notably consistent across the full range of the instrument. He could articulate every note, even at very fast tempos which seemed to present no difficulty to him; this served to enhance the impression of his speed of execution. His sense of harmony was highly developed, enabling him to deliver bold statements through complex harmonic progressions (chord changes), and embodying the linear, "algebraic" terms of bebop harmony. In addition to his up-tempo prowess, he could express himself deeply in a ballad performance.
His first recordings were with R&B bandleader Chris Powell, following which he performed with Tadd Dameron, J. J. Johnson, Lionel Hampton, and Art Blakey before forming his own group with Max Roach. The Clifford Brown & Max Roach Quintet was a high-water mark of the hard bop style, with all the members of the group except for bassist George Morrow contributing original songs. Brown's trumpet was originally partnered with Harold Land's tenor saxophone. After Land left in 1955 in order to spend more time with his wife, Sonny Rollins joined and remained a member of the group for the rest of its existence. In their hands the bebop vernacular reached a peak of inventiveness.
The clean-living Brown escaped the influence of heroin on the jazz world, a model established by Charlie Parker. Clifford stayed away from drugs and was not fond of alcohol. Sonny Rollins, who was recovering from a heroin addiction, said that "Clifford was a profound influence on my personal life. He showed me that it was possible to live a good, clean life and still be a good jazz musician."
In June 1956, Brown and Richie Powell embarked on a drive to Chicago for their next appearance. Powell's wife Nancy was at the wheel so that Clifford and Richie could sleep. While driving at night in the rain on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, west of Bedford, she lost control of the car and it went off the road. All three were killed in the resulting crash. Brown is buried in Mt. Zion Cemetery, in Wilmington, Delaware.
Benny Golson, who had done a stint in Lionel Hampton's band with Brown, wrote "I Remember Clifford" to honour his memory. The piece became a jazz standard, as musicians paid tribute by recording their own interpretations of it.
Helen Merrill, who recorded with Brown in 1954 (Helen Merrill, EmArcy), recorded a tribute album in 1995 entitled Brownie: Homage to Clifford Brown. The album features solos and ensemble work by trumpeters Lew Soloff, Tom Harrell, Wallace Roney, and Roy Hargrove.
Brownie Speaks, a video documentary, is the culmination of years of research by Wilmington-born jazz pianist Don Glanden, research that has included interviews with Brown's friends, family, contemporaries, and admirers. Glanden's son Brad edited these interviews, along with archival materials and newly shot video footage. The documentary premiered in 2008 at the "Brownie Speaks" Clifford Brown Symposium hosted by The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. The three-day symposium featured performances from close friends and bandmates of Brown such as Benny Golson and Lou Donaldson and other prominent artists inspired by Brown, including Marcus Belgrave, Terence Blanchard, and John Fedchock.
In 1994, Brown's widow, LaRue Brown Watson, established the Clifford Brown Jazz Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to Brown's memory and inspiring a love for jazz among young people. The Foundation is currently under the direction of Clifford Brown III, Brown's grandson and a respected Bay Area trumpeter and music producer.
- Memorial Album (Blue Note, 1953)
- Memorial (Prestige, 1953)
- The Clifford Brown Big Band in Paris (Prestige, 1953)
- The Clifford Brown Sextet in Paris (Prestige, 1953)
- The Clifford Brown Quartet in Paris (Prestige, 1953)
- Best Coast Jazz (EmArcy, 1954)
- Clifford Brown All Stars (EmArcy, 1954 )
- Jam Session (EmArcy, 1954) - with Clark Terry and Maynard Ferguson
- Clifford Brown: Jazz Immortal (Pacific Jazz, 1954, Rudy Van Gelder remastering, 2001)
- Brown and Roach Incorporated (EmArcy, 1954)
- Daahoud (Mainstream Records, 1954)
- Clifford Brown & Max Roach (EmArcy, 1954-5)
- Study in Brown (EmArcy, 1955)
- Clifford Brown with Strings (EmArcy, 1955)
- Clifford Brown and Max Roach at Basin Street (EmArcy, 1956)
- The Beginning and the End (Columbia, 1973) Contains work from 1952 with Chris Powell and his Blue Flames from 1952 and a gig in Philadelphia recorded on 31 May 1955 (Nick Catalano biography) or 25 June 1956 (liner notes).
With Art Blakey
- A Night at Birdland Vol. 1 (Blue Note, 1954)
- A Night at Birdland Vol. 2 (Blue Note, 1954)
- A Night at Birdland Vol. 3 (Blue Note, 1954)
With J.J. Johnson
- The Eminent J. J. Johnson Volume 1 (Blue Note, 1953)
With Helen Merrill
- Helen Merrill (EmArcy, 1954)
With Sarah Vaughan
- Sarah Vaughan with Clifford Brown (EmArcy, 1954)
With Sonny Rollins
- Sonny Rollins Plus 4 (Prestige, 1956)
With Dinah Washington
- Dinah Jams (EmArcy, 1954)
- allmusic Biography
- "Jazz Standards Songs and Instrumentals (Joy Spring)". JazzStandards.com. Retrieved June 18, 2012.
- "Jazz Standards Songs and Instrumentals (Daahoud)". JazzStandards.com. Retrieved June 18, 2012.
- Carr, Ian; Brian Fairweather and Charles Alexander Priestley (2004). The Rough Guide to Jazz. Rough Guides. p. 102. ISBN 1-84353-256-5.
- Catalano, Nick (2000). Clifford Brown: The Life and Art of the Legendary Jazz Trumpeter. New York, New York: Oxford University Press. p. 208. ISBN 0-19-510083-2.
- Charles Carson, PhD (July 10, 2010). "Clifford Brown's Philadelphia". Scribd. p. 5. Retrieved March 8, 2012.
- Rosenthal, David, H. Hard Bop: Jazz and Black Music 1955-1965. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-505869-0.
- "Brown, Clifford".
- "50 years since Clifford Brown's death". Delaware Online. June 23, 2006. Retrieved August 27, 2013.
- Nick Catalano, Clifford Brown: The Life and Art of the Legendary Jazz Trumpeter (Oxford University Press, 2001)
- Clifford Brown on the Hard Bop Homepage
- 50 Years Later, Unmuted Awe for Clifford Brown
- Clifford Brown at Find a Grave