Ray Brown - R.I.P.

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Captain Bacardi

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I just found out that legendary jazz bassist Ray Brown died yesterday (7/2/02) in Indianapolis after playing a round of golf. He was 75. He was always the steadiest of bass players.


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Rudy

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IIRC, wasn't he on some of Oscar Peterson's trio sides for Verve? If so, that's probably where I first heard his work.

Well...he's #3 for musicians. Entwistle, Clooney, and now Ray Brown.

I'm cancelling my golf date for next Monday, BTW... :confused:

-= N =-
 

Captain Bacardi

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Rudy said:
IIRC, wasn't he on some of Oscar Peterson's trio sides for Verve? If so, that's probably where I first heard his work.

I don't recall if it was on Verve or not, but they did make some albums together. I used to enjoy the albums he did with the L.A. 4 in the 70's, which included Bud Shank, Laurindo Almeida, and either Shelly Manne or Jeff Hamilton on drums. Good stuff. That's what I used to call smooth jazz.


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Rudy

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Funny you should mention "smooth": I remember the L.A. 4 used to get a bad rap back then for being just that...smooth. My mother had some of those LPs back then. I should go scam some of them next time I'm over there. :wink:

Can't say the L.A. 4 was as bad as Fourplay is. What gets me about Fourplay is that yes, they're all heavyweights in jazz in their own right, but the music is just plain bland! I have two or three of theirs (all free promos :) ), and to be honest, they all come off as a typical bland Bob James Tappan-Zee album with great guest musicians. Nothing against Larry Carlton (I like some of his solo albums), but I think they had a little more bite when Lee Rit was in the band.

In only a couple of cases have I liked Bob James' music. I heard parts of a straight-ahead date that were quite good, and I actually do like his album Double Vision with David Sanborn. (It seems he does better when there's a good "lead voice" fronting him.) Even his albums with Kirk Whalum wasn't all that bad...it certainly impressed me a lot more than Fourplay's recordings to date.

Speaking of Ritenour...whatever has happened to him? Some of my favorite jazz guitar albums had his name on them. I remember when GRP dumped everybody, he co-founded the label called i.e.music, and he did release one or two CDs that he produced and/or played on (like A Twist of Jobim). But beyond that...??

-= N =-
...gearing up for Rippingtons/Benoit/Ponty triple bill in four weeks!...
 

Captain Bacardi

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Captain Bacardi said:
I just found out that legendary jazz bassist Ray Brown died yesterday (7/2/02) in Indianapolis after playing a round of golf. He was 75. He was always the steadiest of bass players.

Here's an obit on Ray Brown:

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Ray Brown, a legendary jazz bassist who played with giants Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Oscar Peterson and his one-time wife Ella Fitzgerald in a career that spanned more than half a century, has died. He was 75.

Brown died in his sleep Tuesday in Indianapolis where he was finishing an engagement at the Jazz Kitchen at the conclusion of the U.S. leg of a tour, said John Clayton, a friend and fellow bassist.

Brown had played golf earlier Tuesday and went to take an afternoon nap, Clayton said. When he did not show up to perform with his trio, a bandmate went to his hotel where his body was found in his room.

Brown, a technically accomplished bassist known for tasteful rhythmic lines, started his career in the 1940s and was among the founders of bebop.

"Ray played with such strength and power and he had such great musical knowledge, he knew every right note to play and he had the most fantastic technique," said drummer Frank Capp, a close friend.

Ray Matthews Brown was born in Pittsburgh in 1926 and started on piano, switching to bass as a member of his high school orchestra. After graduating, he worked in some territory bands, before moving to New York in 1945 where he was immediately involved in the emerging bebop revolution.

The 19-year-old bassist was hired without an audition to join Dizzy Gillespie's experimental big band which included such bebop innovators as Parker, Bud Powell and Max Roach.

Brown "is the primary contributor to bebop from a bassist's standpoint," Clayton said. "We had Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk and there to contribute from the bass chair is Ray Brown. He was extremely important in jazz education, leading a lot of young bass players to learn the instrument."

In his memoir, "To Be Or Not to Bop," Gillespie wrote that "Ray Brown, on bass, played the strongest, most fluid and imaginative bass lines in modern jazz at the time, with the exception of Oscar Pettiford."

Brown's bass talents were featured on such sides as "One Bass Hit" recorded by a sextet led by Gillespie in 1946. The bassist also appeared with the trumpeter in the 1946 film "Jivin' in Be-Bop," and played with Gillespie on such classic recordings as "Night in Tunisia" and "Emanon."

In 1947, Brown married vocalist Ella Fitzgerald and later formed his own trio to tour with his wife. He became the singer's musical director and they continued to work together even after their divorce in the early 1950s.

During this period, Brown also recorded with Parker and worked with some of his former Gillespie bandmates in the Milt Jackson Quartet, an early edition of what became the Modern Jazz Quartet.

While touring with producer Norman Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic, Brown played with the Canadian-born Peterson and became a founding member of the pianist's drumless trio in 1952.

The trio - which also included guitarist Herb Ellis - ranked among jazz's most popular groups in the 1950s. Brown was consistently voted top bassist in critics' and readers' polls during the decade.

Brown proved the ideal partner for Peterson's swirling, intricate solos. The Peterson-Brown-Ellis lineup stayed intact until 1957 and Brown remained with Peterson until 1966.

In 1960, Brown created a stir when he had a hybrid instrument built for him that combined features of the cello and bass. The experiment attracted plenty of interest and eventually Ron Carter had a piccolo bass designed along similar lines.

After leaving Peterson, Brown moved to California. He co-founded the group L.A. Four with saxophonist Bud Shank, Brazilian guitarist Laurindo Almeida and drummer Shelly Manne, and also appeared regularly on the "Merv Griffin Show." He recorded the album "Something for Lester" with pianist Cedar Walton and drummer Elvin Jones.

Since 1989, Brown recorded a series of albums for the Telarc label, many of which featured his trio with pianist Benny Green. His most recent recordings included "Live at Starbucks," "Superbass 2" matching Brown with fellow bassists Christian McBride and Clayton, and his latest, released in June, "Some of My Best Friends Are ... Guitarists" featuring an all-star lineup of jazz guitarists, including Ellis, Russell Malone, John Pizzarelli and Kenny Burrell.

Brown lived in the Sherman Oaks area of Los Angeles with his wife, Cecilia. Along with his wife, he is survived by his son, Ray Brown Jr., of Hawaii, who is the adopted son of Brown and Fitzgerald.



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Rudy

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If he recorded with Peterson and Ellis until 1966, that would almost mean he was on some of the Trio recordings, then. I'd have to check the credits...Peterson's West Side Story is a big favorite of mine, but while it's a trio format, it's not the drumless trio with Ellis.

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LPJim

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He worked with Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach and Milt Jackson, all 3 of whom participated in The Paris All-Stars' HOMAGE TO CHARLIE PARKER (A&M CD 5300).
JB -- who also noticed this was the 3rd musician passing in recent days, online
 

jimac51

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Though not the biggest Oscar Peterson fan(with a world of Tatum,Powell,Monk,Evans, there are real giants in the piano world,though I see over time it is the recording after the Ellis/Brown era that often sound ordinary)I probably have Ray on at least 50 albums,just on vinyl. While reading some comments about Ray on the BlueNote board, an album consistently comes up in praise-Duke Ellington & Ray:"This One's For Blanton",a 1972 Pablo recording in tribute to Duke's important bassist(and timekeeper for what some feel was the best Ellington band,the early '40s)Jimmy Blanton. It's in print as a Fantasy OJC mid-price CD, and a audiophile version has been available. Some of the audio purists just gush about how Ray's bass is recorded on this particular recording. Pablo,as many of you know,was the label that Norman Granz started years after selling Verve. Lots of small group recordings and Norman's usual suspects(Ella, Oscar,Basie,Joe Pass,Dizzy)were featured in intimate recordings. Artwork usually consists of a black & white photo from the paritcular session with minimal liner notes. Once again,less is more. Mac
 
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