Jazz Birthday: Clifford Brown (1930)

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Clifford Brown was a fabulous jazz trumpeter who tragically died in his 26th year, but not before leaving us a legacy of uplifting sound. When you hear the song “I Remember Clifford”, it’s in his memory. Brown’s music is pure joy to hear and pure genius in its genesis. Everything he plays sounds so right that you wouldn’t want to change a note, and that’s while he’s playing very long improvisational lines that employ chromatic passing notes, triplets, accents, slurs, tongued notes, and sophisticated chord progressions with a sound that’s good in any register. It’s a sign of genius that he makes it sound so natural that you feel you are playing, or at least moving, along with him. Although his improvisations are unpredictable and you sense the risks he is taking, not knowing for sure what comes next, their structure makes them seem almost classically mathematical, like a Mozart symphony. Examples of his work are “Ghost of a Chance”, “Sandu”, “Jordu”, and “Joy Spring”. Harold Land, in fact, everyone, keeps up with Brownie on this stunning Carnegie Hall (long) version of “Blues Walk“. At the end of it, Brown and Land trade 4s, then 2s, then 1s, then phrases, and then join, and it all fits together beautifully. One last selection, a Neal Hefti arrangement of “Portrait of Jennie”.

1:37 am on October 30, 2012