Clifford Brown

Born 30 October 1930. Died 26 June 1956.
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Jazz Library - Clifford Brown

Alyn Shipton and Tom Perchard pick the best recordings by trumpeter Clifford Brown.

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Until his life was cut short by a car crash, when he was aged just twenty-five, Clifford Brown had established himself as the most potent trumpeter in jazz to arrive on the scene since Dizzy Gillespie. Equally influenced (and encouraged) by Fats Navarro and Gillespie, Brown possessed both a remarkable technique for high-speed playing, with every note perfectly placed and formed, and also a beautiful lyrical ballad style.

He was also a gifted composer, and many of his pieces became standards, including the uptempo Daahoud, and the reflective Joy Spring. His creative life was sandwiched between two traffic accidents - the first in 1950 which took him months to recover, and the second, fatal, one in June 1956. After being released from hospital, he began his professional career in Philadelphia.

He recorded with Chris Powell, and with arranger Tadd Dameron, but his international reputation started in 1953, when he toured to France with Lionel Hampton and made a set of recordings under his own name in Paris. Back in the United States, he recorded both with Art Blakey and under his own name for Blue Note.

Then in 1954, he formed a quintet which he co-led with drummer Max Roach, and with it he recorded his finest work. First with Harold Land on tenor, and then Sonny Rollins, Brown proved himself both a great ensemble player and a fine soloist. He and the band's pianist, Bud Powell's younger brother Richie, were killed in the same accident while on the road with the group.

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