Personnel: Clifford Brown (trumpet); Lou Donaldson, Gigi Rice (alto saxophone); Charlie Rouse (tenor saxophone); Elmo Hope, John Lewis (piano); Percy Heath (bass); Philly Joe Jones, Art Blakey (drums).
Producer: Alfred Lion.
Reissue producer: Michael Cuscuna.
Recorded at WOR Studios, New York, New York on June 9, 1953 and Audio Video Studios, New York, New York on August 28, 1953. Originally released on Bluenote (1526), Bluenote (5030) and Bluenote (5032). Includes liner notes by Bob Blumenthal.
Digitally remastered by Rudy Van Gelder.
This is part of Blue Note's Rudy Van Gelder Editions series.
Like swing guitarist Charlie Christian, Clifford Brown was incredibly influential for someone who died so young. The Fats Navarro-minded trumpeter was only 25 when a car accident claimed his life in 1956, but his influence remained long after his death -- Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, Woody Shaw, Donald Byrd, and Carmell Jones were among the many trumpet titans who were heavily influenced by Brown. In the early to mid-'50s, Brown kept getting more and more exciting; those who found him impressive in 1952 found even more reason to be impressed in 1955. That means that when it comes to Brown's dates, excellent doesn't necessarily mean essential. Recorded in 1953, the material here isn't quite as essential as some of Brown's work with drummer Max Roach in 1954 and 1955, but it's still superb. The trumpet icon is heard at two different sessions, the first with saxmen Gigi Gryce and Charlie Rouse, pianist John Lewis, bassist Percy Heath, and drummer Art Blakey. The other includes Heath, alto saxman Lou Donaldson, pianist Elmo Hope, and drummer Philly Joe Jones (who in 1953 was two years away from joining Miles Davis' quintet). Brown's solos are consistently expressive; he swings unapologetically hard on up-tempo fare like "Carvin' the Rock," "Cherokee," and Quincy Jones' "Wail Bait," but is quite lyrical on the ballads "You Go to My Head" and "Easy Living." One thing all of the performances have in common is a strong Fats Navarro influence; Navarro was Brown's primary inspiration, although Brown became quite distinctive himself at an early age. Casual listeners would be better off starting out with some of Brown's recordings with Max Roach; nonetheless, seasoned fans will find this to be a treasure chest. ~ Alex Henderson