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Brown, Clifford (Brownie)

jazz recorded powell roach

Brown, Clifford (Brownie) important and widely influential 1950s-era jazz trumpeter; b. Wilmington, Del, Oct. 30, 1930; d. in an automobile accident on the Pennsylvania Tpke. near Bedford, Pa., June 26, 1956. He studied at Del. State Coll. and Md. State Coll. and gained experience playing in college jazz bands. He worked and recorded with Chris Powell. Later, Brown joined Tadd Dameron and toured Europe with Lionel Hampton’s orch. (1953). Upon returning to the U.S., he worked with Art Blakey. Brown joined the Max Roach Quintet (1954), with Richie Powell on piano, and Harold Land, who was replaced by Sonny Rollins in late 1955. The group was sometimes billed as the Brown-Roach Quintet and sometimes as Roach-Brown, presumably so they could share equal billing. Brown was a capablepianist who recorded himself in rehearsal and several hours of these rehearsals exist on tape. His solo trumpet practicing on “Cherokee” has been issued. Through such documents we can study the development of his style which took off from Fats Navarro and Miles Davis and certainly, but less explicitly, from Dizzy Gillespie. “Cherokee” was almost his theme song and he recorded it many times between 1953-55 in different versions. The group and Brown were becoming the hottest attractions in jazz when he and Powell were killed. Their car, driven by Powell’s wife who also died, went off the road in the middle of the night on the way from Philadelphia to their next gig. This was front page news in the black press and jazz press and a tragedy whose impact is still felt. According to recent research, the session issued as “the end” was not his last date, but made on June 27, 1955. Brown is still studied and emulated by young trumpeters and by any musicians interested in perfectly phrased melodic lines that swing delicately and yet scream with intensity and blues when called for.

Brown, Earle (Appleton Jr.) [next] [back] Brown, Cleo(patra)

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