I feel like it is time to sing the praises of Clifford Brown here on lilymutt.com. The brilliant trumpet player lived an all-too-brief life but left some incredible music. Born in Wilmington, Delaware in 1930, “Brownie” (as he was nicknamed) first began to play the trumpet around the age of ten.

By his early twenties, Clifford was working with a number of other artists such as Tadd Dameron, J.J. Johnson, Lionel Hampton, and the great Art Blakey. Standout recordings from this period include “Jay Jay Johnson with Clifford Brown” (a 10″ LP from 1953), as well as “A Night At Birdland Volume 1” and “A Night At Birdland Volume 2” (both recorded in February of 1954).

Brown really came into his own while recording with the drummer Max Roach. Their albums “Clifford Brown & Max Roach” (from 1954) and “Brown and Roach Incorporated” (also from 1954, but released in 1955) are classic examples of hard bop virtuosity. Their final release together, “Clifford Brown and Max Roach at Basin Street” is really something special.

Not only did Brown record traditional hard bop jazz, but his recordings “Clifford Brown with Strings” (recorded in 1955) and his accompaniment of Sarah Vaughan on her 1954 self-title release “Sarah Vaughan” show a remarkable elegance and grace.

Clifford’s final live appearance was at the Continental Restaurant in Norfolk, Virginia on June 18, 1956. The following week, he was tragically killed in a car accident on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, along with pianist Richie Powell and Powell’s wife, Nancy. Nancy, driving the car so that the other passengers could sleep, lost control on a rain-soaked evening. Brown was 25 years old.

For more information about Clifford Brown and the incredible music he left behind, please look over the links below. As always, thanks for stopping by.


A more detailed biography

50 Years Later, Unmuted Awe For Clifford Brown

Clifford Brown With Strings – YouTube

Clifford Brown and Max Roach at Basin Street – YouTube

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April 9, 2019

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