Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The joy of Clifford Brown

Clifford Brown is, for my money, the warmest, most emotional, most expressive, most.. FUN trumpet player... EVER!
His playing is so right on- it let's you know why, for the time, he was the man.
There is a rare out of print record he made with Gigi Gryce and His Big Band, Jazztime Paris featuring Clifford Brown, 1954 on Blue Note (it's a 10")... and it is marvelous.
If you can find it online... and you CAN (if you look... or email me)... it is amazing and worth the trouble.
There are a bunch of records available on ITunes or wherever... find something with Max Roach as a starter.
You won't be sorry and you will feel the joy that was Clifford.
Oh, and check out the video above- it is very rare footage of Clifford on the Soupy Sales show.
Here's a bit more- I went to Wikipedia to get a description for those that might know...
Neil Tesser wrote of him:
"Clifford Brown could play with a speed and precision that challenged, and at time eclipsed even the virtuosity of his own idols ... But even more than that, Clifford became known for a brain-boggling capacity to improvise long, complex and stunningly well-constructed solos."
Despite an abbreviated recording career of only 4 years duration (due to his early death), he had a considerable influence on later jazz trumpet players, including Donald Byrd, Lee Morgan, Booker Little, Freddie Hubbard, Wynton Marsalis, Nicholas Payton, Arturo Sandoval.
His style was influenced 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 the high 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. As well as his up-tempo prowess, he could express himself deeply in a ballad performance. It is said that he played each set as though it would be his last.
The Clifford Brown & Max Roach Quintet was a high water mark of the hard bop style. The group's pianist, Richie Powell (younger brother of Bud), contributed original compositions, as did Brown himself. The partnership of Brown's trumpet with Harold Land's tenor saxophone made for a very strong front line. Teddy Edwards briefly replaced Land before Sonny Rollins took over for the remainder of the group's existence. In their hands the bebop vernacular reached a peak of inventiveness.
The clean-living Brown has been cited as perhaps breaking 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; his only vice was chess. Rollins said of him: "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." Roach described him as "one of the rare complete individuals ever born ... a sweet, beautiful [person]".