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Clifford Brown Remembered

wed 5 jul 2023
Theme: Jazz

Saturday July 8th, 2023, 5:00 PM – Three of a Kind.

In February 1954, trumpeter Clifford Brown performs in the New York jazz club Birdland. He is part of a quintet led by drummer Art Blakey, a group that would soon become one of the first leading hard bop formations: The Jazz Messengers. A month later, at the request of drummer Max Roach, he moves to the West Coast – the beginning of the legendary Clifford Brown/Max Roach Quintet. Two years later, in 1956, a traffic accident abruptly ends Brown’s 25-year life. The jazz world is in shock.

Tenorist and bandleader Benny Golson – also a Jazz Messenger – worked with Brown. Golson’s I Remember Clifford is one of his many compositions to reach standard status. The piece became a vehicle for dozens of instrumentalists and vocalists, and has been recorded countless times. Also by The Jazz Messengers, and by – Jazz Messenger – Lee Morgan. Clifford Brown was a role model for trumpeter Lee Morgan.

Morgan was only 18 when he recorded his third album under his own name for Blue Note Records in 1957, Lee Morgan Vol. 3. Accompanying him are Benny Golson and alto/flautist Gigi Gryce. Wynton Kelly (piano), Paul Chambers (bass) – members of the Miles Davis Quintet – and drummer Charlie Persip complete the line-up. Golson supplies all the pieces.

Morgan takes the space for his poignant solo in I Remember Clifford. The two saxes, with their subdued accompaniment, work – in the metaphor of jazz journalist Michael G. Nastos – as ‘musical pallbearers’ for their deceased friend.

Lee Morgan will also come to a dramatic end. In the early morning of February 19, 1972, he plays in Slug’s Saloon, a jazz club in New York. During a break, an argument starts with his wife Helen. She leaves, but returns a moment later with a revolver and shoots him. An ambulance arrives too late. He turned 33. 

Guitarist Pat Martino (photo) recorded Benny Golson’s composition in 1977. Pianist Gil Goldstein, bassist Richard Davis and drummer Billy Hart are musical companions on the album Exit. Martino and Davis form a beautiful string duo. The sonorous sound of the bass, and Richard Davis’ smoothly rhythmic, guitarist-oriented playing, deserve a special mention.

Stan Getz and pianist Kenny Barron had met in a recording studio about eight times since 1986. But what they are planning in 1991 is special: a live series of duo sessions. No bass. No drums. Location: Jazzhus Montmartre in Copenhagen. Such a duo line-up demands a lot from the musicians. The timekeeping, usually entrusted to bass and drums, is now mainly the responsibility of the pianist. In addition, Kenny Barron also plays the essential bass notes of the chords with his left hand. Getz is already seriously ill. These are his very last recordings. He dies three months later. 

This programme opens with three versions of After You’ve Gone. As conclusion, three versions of Whisper Not – composed by Benny Golson. He himself plays in the version by The Jazztet.

Details in the Guide.

Three of a Kind – Bert Broere