|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, Arturo Sandoval, Freddie Hubbard, and others. He was also a composer of note: two of his compositions, "Joy Spring" and "Daahoud", have become jazz standards. His other notable compositions include Minor Mood, Sandu, and Tiny Capers.
Brown was born into a musical family in a progressive East-Side neighborhood of Wilmington, Delaware. His father organized his four youngest sons, including Clifford, 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.
Brown 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. Brown stayed away from drugs and was not fond of alcohol. 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 must have lost control of the car which 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.
Each year, Wilmington hosts the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival.
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 Golson and Lou Donaldson and other 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[when?] under the direction of Clifford Brown III, Brown's grandson and a respected Bay Area trumpeter and music producer.
As leader or co-leader
- New Star On The Horizon (Blue Note 5032 [10" LP], 1953) - sextet with Gigi Gryce, Charlie Rouse, and John Lewis
- Clifford Brown Quartet (Blue Note 5047 [10" LP], rec. 1953 in Paris; rel. 1954)
- Memorial Album (Blue Note 1526, 1953; rel. 1956; CD reissue: Blue Note/Capitol-EMI 32141, rel. 2001)
- Clifford Brown And Art Farmer With The Swedish All Stars (Prestige 167 [10" LP], 1953)
- Memorial (Prestige 7055, 1953; rel. 1955; CD reissue: OJC-Fantasy 017, rel. 1990) - note: this 12" reissues both Prestige 10" albums, #159 and #167.
- Clifford Brown Quartet In Paris (Prestige 7761, 1953)
- Clifford Brown Sextet In Paris (Prestige 7794, 1953)
- Clifford Brown Big Band In Paris (Prestige 7840, 1953)
- Max Roach and Clifford Brown In Concert (Gene Norman Presents Vol. 5 [10" LP], 1954) - with Teddy Edwards, and Carl Perkins
- Max Roach and Clifford Brown In Concert (Gene Norman Presents Vol. 7 [10" LP], 1954) - with Harold Land, and Richie Powell
- The Best Of Max Roach and Clifford Brown In Concert (Gene Norman Presents GNP-18 [12" LP], rel. 1956)
- Clifford Brown Ensemble (Pacific Jazz LP-19 [10" LP], 1954) - septet with Stu Williamson, Zoot Sims, Bob Gordon, and Russ Freeman
- Clifford Brown: Jazz Immortal (Pacific Jazz PJ-3, 1954; rel. 1955; CD reissue: Pacific Jazz/Capitol-EMI 32142 [remastered Rudy Van Gelder edition], rel. 2001)
- Clifford Brown & Max Roach (EmArcy 26043 [10" LP], 1954; EmArcy 36036 [12" LP], rel. 1955)
- Jam Session (EmArcy 36002, 1954) - with Clark Terry, Maynard Ferguson, and Herb Geller
- Clifford Brown with Strings (EmArcy 36005, 1955)
- Brown and Roach Incorporated (EmArcy 36008, 1954; rel. 1955)
- Study in Brown (EmArcy 36037, 1955)
- Best Coast Jazz (EmArcy 36039, 1954; rel. 1955)
- Clifford Brown and Max Roach at Basin Street (EmArcy 36070, 1956)
- Clifford Brown All Stars (EmArcy 36102, 1954; rel. 1956) - note: this album AKA Caravan.
- Daahoud (Mainstream 386, 1954; rel. 1972) - note: all alternate takes of EmArcy material.
- The Beginning And The End (Columbia, rel. 1973) - note: contains material from 1952 with Chris Powell and His Blue Flames, plus a club gig in Philadelphia recorded on either 31 May 1955 (from Nick Catalano's biography) or 25 June 1956 (from the liner notes).
- Alone Together: The Best of the Mercury Years (Verve, 1954-60 )
With Tadd Dameron
- A Study In Dameronia (Prestige 159 [10" LP], 1953)
With J.J. Johnson
- Jay Jay Johnson With Clifford Brown (Blue Note 5028 [10" LP], 1953)
- The Eminent J. J. Johnson Volume 1 (Blue Note 1505, rel. 1955)
With Lou Donaldson
- Lou Donaldson/Clifford Brown: New Faces-New Sounds (Blue Note 5030 [10" LP], 1953)
With Art Blakey
- A Night at Birdland Vol. 1 (Blue Note 5037 [10" LP], 1954)
- A Night at Birdland Vol. 2 (Blue Note 5038 [10" LP], 1954)
- A Night at Birdland Vol. 3 (Blue Note 5039 [10" LP], 1954)
- A Night at Birdland Vol. 1 (Blue Note 1521, rel. 1955)
- A Night at Birdland Vol. 2 (Blue Note 1522, rel. 1955)
With Gigi Gryce
- Gigi Gryce/Clifford Brown Sextet (Blue Note 5048 [10" LP], rec. 1953 in Paris; rel. 1954)
- Gigi Gryce And His Big Band, Vol. 1 (Blue Note 5049 [10" LP], rec. 1953 in Paris; rel. 1954)
- Gigi Gryce And His Little Band, Vol. 2 (Blue Note 5050 [10" LP], rec. 1953 in Paris; rel. 1954)
With Dinah Washington
- Dinah Jams (EmArcy 36000, 1954)
With Sarah Vaughan
- Sarah Vaughan with Clifford Brown (EmArcy 36004, 1954; rel. 1955)
With Helen Merrill
- Helen Merrill (EmArcy 36006, 1954; rel. 1955)
With Sonny Rollins
- Sonny Rollins Plus 4 (Prestige 7038, 1956)
CD anthologies of note
- The Complete EmArcy Recordings Of Clifford Brown (Verve-Universal, 2013 [UPC: 600753422526]; 10-CD set)
- Brownie Speaks: The Complete Blue Note Albums (Blue Note-UMe B0020657 02, 2014 [UPC: 602537816125]; 3-CD set) - note: includes all of the material from the six original 10" LP releases: 5028, 5030, 5032, 5037, 5038, 5039, plus 11 alternate takes.
- 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; Fairweather, Digby; Priestley, Brian (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.
- Carson, Charles (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)