Clifford brown kind of brown


In the early 1980s through to the early 1990s he worked regularly with the Timeless All Stars, a group sponsored by the Timeless jazz record label. The group consisted of Land on tenor, Cedar Walton on piano, Buster Williams on bass, Billy Higgins on drums, Curtis Fuller on trombone and Bobby Hutcherson on vibes. Land also toured with his own band during this time, often including his son, Harold Land Jr., on piano and usually featuring Bobby Hutcherson and Billy Higgins as well. During these years he played regularly at Hop Singhs in Marina Del Rey in the area and the Keystone Korner in San Francisco. [3]

Yet Brown’s life threatening accident itself was a pivotal moment for him psychologically. Here was a situation where he nearly lost his life. He lost friends, lost his ability to play, and lost an important mentor. Is there a more powerful set of circumstances to show us just how short and precious life is? If this experience wouldn’t lead to a sense of urgency and a re-examination of purpose in one’s life, what would? In this context we can’t help but think of the many comments from those who have heard him play that describe him as “playing like there’s no tomorrow.” This period of crisis in his life likely facilitated his truly finding himself, and affirming with particular force that which he was most passionate about – his playing – and propelled him to devote himself even more fully and single-mindedly to it. Indeed he did not return to school after his recuperation. Perhaps he would not have become the musician he was without this year of trial. How fitting that he found his way to develop as fully as he could as a musician and as a person; how tragic that he died six years later, also in an automobile accident.

There has been much speculation as to how Clifford Brown would have continued to develop as a musician had he lived and what would have come to jazz as a result. Who knows? Many musicians reach their peak in their mid 20’s. It’s an important and compelling and sad question, but ultimately a futile exercise and of course a question that’s impossible to answer. Nevertheless, we would have to be encouraged about the likelihood of Clifford Brown continuing to be a positive force in the jazz world. In 1953, during the tour with Hampton’s band, when Clifford was nearly 23, Quincy Jones was interviewed about Brown. He said (as quoted in Catalano’s Clifford Brown: The Life and Art of the Legendary Trumpeter ),

“About Clifford Brown, I’ll put it like this. If any musician of the present day can be compared to Parker, it’s Clifford. I can honestly say that he is the most unblossomed talent of this generation. He should not only be judged by his present talent (which is still of superior quality) but by its potentialities. Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie and all the other influences were not judged until they reached maturity. It takes a young musician many years to rid the mind of clichés and to unscramble the millions of young ideas into what it takes to make a mature and original musical influence. By knowing Clifford very well, I’m aware of his sensitivity and superior taste; he will never lower his standards and play without sincere feeling, whatever the mood. He is a young musician in age but already a comparatively mature one in ideas. When he matures in his own standards, I do believe he will be a major jazz influence. He is the kind of person who would excel at anything attempted.”

Thankfully and happily the power of Clifford Brown’s example as a life lived is timeless. This life example can’t help but inspire to bring out the best in us all.


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