Today In Jazz

Happy Birthday Clifford Brown!

October 30

Trumpet genius Clifford Brown is born in 1930 in Wilmington, DE. “Brownie,” as he was known, was one of the most lyrical players in jazz history, with a rich tone in all registers of the horn. In his brief life Brown recorded dozens of rhapsodically beautiful solos featuring a rarely matched combination of technical dexterity, musical intelligence and emotional depth. Although Brown came to prominence as a member of the Lionel Hampton Orchestra and was one of the original Jazz Messengers, most of his best work was done with the Brown-Roach Quintet, a classic group he formed with drummer Max Roach. Brown also was an exceptional composer who left behind a dozen or so songs (“Joy Spring,” “Daahoud”) that remain as beloved by musicians today as Brown was by his fellow musicians. His death in an auto accident in 1956 at age 25 is considered by many to be the greatest tragedy in jazz history—and he was memorialized in his friend Benny Golson’s classic paean, “I Remember Clifford.” Here is Brownie performing “Lady Be Good” and “Memories of You” in the only known film footage of him, from the comedian Soupy Sales’ television show, “Soupy’s On!,” in Detroit in the mid-1950s:

On this day in 1940, Count Basie records “What’s Your Number?” featuring tenor saxophonist Lester Young. Here it is, in all its glory: