CLIFFORD BROWN — Memorial Album (review)

CLIFFORD BROWN — Memorial Album album cover Album · 1956 · Bop Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
js
(This review was written using the original vinyl LP release). I love these old jazz records that give you an artist playing with two different bands on the same record, it’s a great way to hear an artist’s development and how they react in different groups. This album was recorded when ‘Brownie’ was new on the scene and still playing in the bop tradition of the time. In a few years he and Max Roach will forge a new bluesier sound to be called hard bop. You can already hear the blues in Brown’s bop playing, he’s not as technical as Diz, nor as introspective as Miles, but Brown’s playing is always bright, energetic, melodic and a pure pleasure to listen to.

The first recording date is actually on side 2 and sounds a little more modern than side 1. Side 2’s band features the aggressive almost avant-garde leaning drum work of Philly Jo Jones who plays lots of busy fills. You can hear the roots of Tony Williams and Elvin Jones in his adventurous stick work. Saxophonist Lou Donaldson is on fire and even outshines Clifford on a couple tunes. The side 1 band features a double saxophone section that makes for a very appealing retro swing band sound. Blakey’s drumming is more conservative and in the pocket than Philly Jo, but still great.

This early record is not considered one of Clifford Brown’s best, that will come later with Max Roach, but it is still has some great be-bop with all the bright positive high-octane energy you would expect from this era in jazz.
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