Archive for Clifford Brown

R.I.P. Jimmy Heath (1926-2020)

Posted in Jazz with tags , , , , on January 20, 2020 by telescoper

I heard last night the sad news that saxophonist arranger and bandleader Jimmy Heath had passed away at the age of 93. Jimmy Heath was a terrific musician whom Miles Davis described as `one of the thoroughbreds’ and who performed on a huge number of really important records as leader or as sideman throughout a long career than spanned seven decades.

I spent last night going through the part of my record collection that I have here in Maynooth to select a track to play as a small tribute, and came up with this up tempo track on a Blue Note collection. It’s standard written by Harold Arlen called Get Happy. I hadn’t listened to it for ages and I’d forgotten how great it is. It was recorded in 1953 by a six-piece band led by trombonist Jay Jay Johnson, and featuring Clifford Brown (trumpet), Jimmy Heath (tenor saxophone), John Lewis (piano), Percy Heath (bass, Jimmy’s brother*) and Kenny Clarke (drums). They’re all great musicians, and they make a wonderfully rich ensemble sound for a small band. Jimmy Heath plays a fine solo, rather typical of his early style (which, although he plays tenor sax rather than alto is clearly in the mould of Charlie Parker) and you also get the chance to hear the great Clifford Brown .

*Jimmy’s other brother Albert Heath was a fine drummer.

R.I.P. Jimmy Heath (1926-2020)

Cherokee – Clifford Brown

Posted in Jazz with tags , , , , on April 6, 2019 by telescoper

Well, I’ve been on duty all day so far at the Open Day I mentioned yesterday and am about to knock off and go home for a rest but first I thought I’d share this wonderful version of Cherokee, a tune that because of its complex chord changes is generally regarded as a test piece for jazz musicians. You’d never guess that from the ease that Clifford Brown shows as he tackles the 64-bar harmonic labyrinth at a breakneck tempo. If you want an example of jazz as a white knuckle ride, this is it!

Clifford Brown was a phenomenal virtuoso on the trumpet and it’s so sad that he died so young, at the age of 25, in a car accident. This performance was recorded in August 1953 and features an extended solo by Clifford Brown followed by a series of four-bar exchanges with the great drummer Art Blakey. Other principals are Percy Heath on bass and John Lewis on piano; Gigi Gryce (alto) and Charlie Rouse (tenor) also participate on the intro and outro. Enjoy!

Get Happy!

Posted in Jazz with tags , , , on August 8, 2016 by telescoper

Back in Cardiff I was going through my collection of old LPs and found this track on a Blue Note collection. It’s standard written by Harold Arlen called Get Happy. I hadn’t listened to it for ages and I’d forgotten how great it is. It was recorded in 1953 by a six-piece band led by trombonist Jay Jay Johnson, with Clifford Brown (trumpet), Jimmy Heath (tenor saxophone), John Lewis (piano), Percy Heath (bass) and Kenny Clarke (drums). They’re all great musicians, and they make a wonderfully rich ensemble sound for a small band, but the star of the show is without doubt the great Clifford Brown , whose solo is absolutely sensational. Just listen to the way he plays the bridge on his first chorus. Superb!

Cherokee, by Clifford Brown

Posted in Jazz with tags , , on September 21, 2013 by telescoper

The blog’s been quite busy this week, so I’ll take it easy today and just indulge my love of 1950s jazz. This version of Ray Noble’s standard Cherokee is a vehicle for the virtuosity and creativity of the trumpeter Clifford Brown. The changes of this tune are notoriously difficult to improvise on, 64 bars of harmonic twists and turns that have led countless musicians onto the rocks, but Clifford Brown navigates them at full pelt with amazingly agility. Enjoy!

Joy Spring

Posted in Jazz with tags , , , on March 28, 2012 by telescoper

Having an early morning cup of tea in the garden just now, as the fine weather continues, I suddenly remembered this classic from 1954. Fortunately someone has put it on Youtube so I can share it right away. This piece will forever be associated with the late great  Clifford Brown who plays trumpet and leads the band, but the real star of the show for me is the arranger, Jack Montrose, who wove a rich  texture around the melody of Joy Spring, with more than a hint of the West Coast “Cool”  that was to dominate the US jazz scene  in later years.

Another September Song

Posted in Jazz with tags , , , on September 1, 2011 by telescoper

Well, the summer’s just about over again once more and soon we’ll be welcoming the new academic year. I thought I’d mark the occasion of the First of September with the same song that I posted this time a couple of years ago. It’s quite a different version, though, this one featuring the luscious velvet voice of  Sarah Vaughan, not to mention the trumpet of Clifford Brown. Here they are with  September Song, by Kurt Weill:

Oh, it’s a long, long while from May to December
But the days grow short when you reach September
When the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame
And you ain’t got time for the waiting game

Oh the days days dwindle down to a precious few
September November,
And these few golden days I’d share with you
Those golden days I share with you