Happy Birthday, Brownie!
Clifford Brown, October 30, 1930-June 26, 1956
“Oh, Lady Be Good,” “Memories of You,” live (TV broadcast [Soupy’s On, Detroit]), 1955
Clifford Brown/Max Roach Quintet (Clifford Brown, trumpet; Max Roach, drums; Sonny Rollins, tenor saxophone; Richie Powell, piano; George Morrow, bass)
Live, “Get Happy”
Live, Virginia (Norfolk, Continental Restaurant), 6/18/1956 (Last Concert)
“You Go To My Head”
Don’t take a trumpet player, man. You won’t need one after you hear this young cat, Clifford Brown.
—Charlie Parker (to Art Blakey, when he was going to work in Philadelphia in the early 1950s)
Out in California, we had a house, and we had a piano and vibes as well as trumpet and drums. Brownie could play all these instruments, you know. I would go out of the house and come back, and he would be practicing on anything, drums, vibes, anything. He loved music.
He was so well-rounded in all music. He liked Miles, Trane—who was very young then—and Louis Armstrong, and Lee Morgan, who spent alot of time with Clifford in Philly. Eric Dolphy was another good friend of ours. Music was his first love; I was his second, and math was his third. He was a wizard with figures and numbers; he used to play all kinds of mathematical games. . . .
There was only one time I didn’t travel with him. Our child, Clifford Jr., had been born, and I hadn’t taken him home yet to see the family. So Clifford said okay, and he put us on the plane; and of course that was when he was in the car accident and was killed. It was our second wedding anniversary and my 22nd birthday.
Without Brownie, it would be hard to imagine the existence of Lee Morgan or Freddie Hubbard or Booker Little or Woody Shaw or Wynton Marsalis.
Today, at WKCR-FM (broadcasting from Columbia University), it’s all Brownie, (almost) all day. (This birthday celebration will be interrupted in the middle of the day for coverage of the Columbia/Yale football game.)