Clifford Brown and Max Roach – Short Essay

12 December 2017

Clifford Brown is superb on rumple, building clear, precise melody lines with such authority and control for a mere 24 year old. As many have observed, to get from Louis Armstrong to modern trumpeters, in addition to Miles Davis, Fats Innovator and Lee Morgan, you have to give very serious consideration to Clifford Brown. His solos, for example on Duke Cordon’s “Juror” or on the three Clifford Brown originals, “Audio”, “The Blues Walk” and “Joy Spring”, now Jazz standards, are beautifully controlled yet expressive.Harold Land, much overlooked, plays fluid, sinuous saxophone and shares real understanding with Clifford Brown in the many unison passages before breaking out into inventive and innovative solos. Archie Powell and George Morrow on piano and bass add to the modern, open approach inspired by Max Roach’s fine drumming. Before forming this quintet with Clifford Brown, Max Roach had already established a lasting place In the history of the development of Jazz, playing drums for Coleman Hawkins and Dizzy Gillespie before appearing on nearly all of Charlie Parser’s classic bebop recordings and on Miles Davit’s “Birth of the Cool”.

He ransomed Jazz drumming, pioneering an open style with emphasis away from heavy use of bass drum towards more subtle development of cross rhythms on ride cymbal, high hat and snare rim. His prodigious technique virtually defined modern jazz drumming. This Is clearly the case on “What Am I Here For? “, the Duke Longtime composition, which also highlights how tight the ensemble playing Is. “These Foolish Things”, the sass show tune by Jack Strachey and Harold Link, showcases the bass playing of George Morrow, using bass as a lead Instrument, a further Innovation.Parisian Thoroughfare”, the Bud Powell composition, Is perhaps the highlight, starting and finishing with a coy Impromptu Imitation of Parallax traffic sounds, It opens out Into a beautifully balanced and relaxed expression of the confidence and optimism of the meld ‘fifties. In their two years together, the band toured extensively, heading East from Its West Coast Orleans, taking New York, Max Roach’s adopted home town since the age of four, by storm. On that Journey, the music, as summed up by the final album “At Basin Street”, became faster and more uncompromising, losing much of the freshness of this first album.

It was two years In which Clifford Brown emerged as an undisputed Jazz great and the Max Roach-Clifford Brown quintet set a standard for tight Improvised Jazz that has seldom been surpassed. Established a lasting place in the history of the development of Jazz, playing drums jazz drumming. This is clearly the case on “What Am I Here For? “, the Duke Longtime composition, which also highlights how tight the ensemble playing is. Showcases the bass playing of George Morrow, using bass as a lead instrument, a further innovation. Parisian Thoroughfare”, the Bud Powell composition, is perhaps the highlight, tarring and finishing with a coy impromptu imitation of Parisian traffic sounds, it opens out into a beautifully balanced and relaxed expression of the confidence and optimism of the mid ‘fifties. In their two years together, the band toured extensively, heading East from its West Coast origins, taking New York, Max Roach’s adopted home town since the age Basin Street”, became faster and more uncompromising, losing much of the freshness of this first album. It was two years in which Clifford Brown emerged as an tight improvised Jazz that has seldom been surpassed.

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