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Clifford Brown & Max Roach

wed 17 apr 2024
Theme: Jazz

Saturday April 20th, 2024, 5:00 PM – House of Hard Bop.

Jazz has many legendary tandems and ensembles: Charlie Parker with Dizzy Gillespie (Bird & Dizz), the quintets of Miles Davis with John Coltrane, The Dave Brubeck Quartet with Paul Desmond, and closer to home, the Jacobs brothers with Rita Reys. The Clifford Brown/Max Roach Quintet also wrote history in just two and a half years of existence in the mid-1950s.

Los Angeles, autumn 1953. Drummer Max Roach is given the opportunity to put together a quintet – a long series of bookings is guaranteed by the impresario. Roach brings 23-year-old trumpeter Clifford Brown over from the East Coast, where Brown has now proven himself in the Art Blakey Quintet (A Night At Birdland). This sowed the seeds for one of the most important hard bop formations of the 1950s. Brown is able to combine super-fast melodic lines with a clear, warm sound – something that not every trumpet player has. In addition, he is an inexhaustible source of musical ideas and a talent for composition.

After a number of successful recordings, recorded on the West Coast, “Brownie” and Roach performed at Capitol Studios in New York in 1955. With Harold Land on tenor, Richie Powell on piano and bassist George Morrow. The result is Study in Brown – a title with a nod to modern painting. Brown, Land and Powell also prove their compositional qualities.

* Pianist Powell is responsible for Jacqui, a piece with a ‘tricky’ form, a fascinating and clear percussion story of 36 bars and a surprise at the end.

* Clifford Brown’s short and concentrated Swinging takes place in a dazzling up tempo that Powell always seems to have some difficulty with.

* Lands End – of course by the tenorist – opens with a rich unison theme in a minor key. Relaxed pace. The immediately appealing melodic theme character is continued in all solos. How beautiful things are possible within a standard form with simple harmonies…

During the band’s stay in Chicago at the end of 1955, tenorist Harold Land received bad news from his home front in San Diego. He immediately travels to California, and not much later decides to say goodbye to the road and stay on the West Coast from now on. His successor at CliffordBrown/Max Roach will be…Sonny Rollins!

In early 1956 the band – with Rollins – was in the studio for the recording of Clifford Brown and Max Roach at Basin Street.

* Cole Porter’s What is This Thing Called Love opens with an atmospheric one-minute intro. In Cherokee – from the album Study in Brown – they did something similar. An effectively built-up tension.

* The popular song Love is a Many Splendored Thing gets a sharp tempo acceleration compared to most other versions. And the rhythmic-metric shifts also pull the theme far away from its origin.

* I’ll Remember April shows a variation of the long, ‘static’ intro of the first song. Here too, a minute of warm-up before the theme emerges.

You will also hear from this album Powell’s Prances, Time (both pieces by Richie Powell), The Scene is Clean and Gertrude’s Bounce (also by Powell).

Basin Street is the only Brown/Roach album with Rollins. It is one of the band’s last recordings, and also a highlight. The album was rated by critic Scott Yanow as “… one of the 17 Essential Hard Bop Recordings.”

House of Hard Bop – Eric Ineke photo: Clifford Brown (left) and Max Roach