1 March 2019

Pete Recommends…Clifford Brown – Jazz Immortal

Each month Peter Batten recommends a recording that jazz fans may wish to add to their personal library.


Clifford Brown

Jazz Immortal featuring Zoot Sims

[Pacific Jazz CDP 7 46850 2]


Last week I began preparing a talk about tenor saxophonist Zoot Sims. His discography suddenly reminded me of a session which I added to my collection in the 1950s. In July and August 1954 Pacific Jazz arranged a recording session at the Capitol Studios in Los Angeles to feature the new trumpet star Clifford Brown. Apart from his solo work it would record four of his original compositions. Jack Montrose was commissioned to write arrangements for the session which would include one of his compositions and two standards. The plan was to showcase Brownie with a typical West Coast group of that era. The rhythm section was to include Russ Freeman on piano, Carson Smith or Joe Mondragon on bass, and the great Shelley Manne on drums. A typical West Coast feeling would be created by the Mulliganesque baritone sax of Bob Gordon and the valve trombone of Stu Williamson. A strong solo contrast would be provided by the tenor sax of Zoot Sims.

I recommend this session for several reasons. Above all because it features Brownie at his beautiful best, beautifully recorded. His compositions are a delight – Joy Spring became a standard – and the simple arrangements, where he is usually the lead voice, allow his strong, vibrant sound to give a special quality to the whole session. The West Coast setting succeeds beautifully, especially the piano work of Russ Freeman, so typical of the era. The last vital element is provided by Zoot. His solos contrast with the trumpet work, but also complement it perfectly. Two great jazzmen at the top of their game.

The whole session is a delight, but the greatest pleasure is in hearing Brownie playing his own tunes so beautifully  and obviously with so much pleasure.

[Although the whole session has been re-issued I would advise you to consider buying it as part of the amazing box set, Clifford Brown -13 Classic Albums on Just Gone Jazz]


Peter Batten

Clifford Brown, trumpet; Zoot Sims, tenor saxophone; Stu Williamson, valve trombone; Bob Gordon, baritone saxophone; Russ Freeman, piano; Joe Mondragon/Carson Smith, bass; Shelley Manne, drums.

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