Clifford Brown: "Best Coast Jazz" is the Five Star bookend session to "Clifford Brown All Stars", both having been recorded at the same session in Los Angeles in 1954. On the vinyl LP, each song took up a side, allowing for plenty of blowing room. "BCJ" would be released in 1955. One year later, Clifford Brown (and pianist Richie Powell and wife) would be dead from a car wreck on the Penn Turnpike during a rainstorm. Thus altering the course of jazz trumpet history in one tragic act. "CBAS" would be hurriedly released following the accident and we would once again shake our heads at the tremendous loss of trumpet genius Clifford Brown.
Although Clifford Brown did a phenomenal amount of commercial recordings during his all too brief lifetime (he died prior to his 26th birthday in a car crash that also took the life of his quintet's pianist Richie Powell, Bud's younger brother), relatively few of the recordings he made were on stage. Fortunately, this CD includes performances from two 1956 broadcasts from the old Basin Street club in New York City, and two tracks from a Carnegie Hall concert the previous year…
Study in Brown features the 1955 version of the Clifford Brown/Max Roach Quintet, a group also including tenor saxophonist Harold Land, pianist Richie Powell, and bassist George Morrow. One of the premiere early hard bop units, this band had unlimited potential. Highlights of this set are "Cherokee" (during which trumpeter Brown is brilliant), "Swingin'," and "Sandu." All of this group's recordings are well worth acquiring.
“What was immediately striking was the fresh sound of the quintet. The remarkable empathy within the group, the careful selection of material and the exciting arrangements by Powell all contributed mightily to that sound. Clifford Brown had come into his own as composer as “Sweet Clifford,” “Joy Spring” and “Daahoud” demonstrate. It didn’t hurt that Roach and Brown were complete originals and among the greatest performers on their instruments.
In a way, Brown was the Wynton Marsalis of his time; like Marsalis, Brown came on the jazz scene following a period of significant stylistic change. However, unlike Marsalis (who rejected the free jazz made famous by the generation just preceding his own), Brown chose to embrace the innovations of his immediate elders. In the process, Brown became one of the great post-Gillespie trumpeters, developing a voice that spoke the language of bebop with a distinct, personal inflection. In September 1953 – having just recorded his first dates as a leader for Blue Note – Brown went to Europe with Lionel Hampton.
Like swing guitarist Charlie Christian, Clifford Brown was incredibly influential for someone who died so young. The Fats Navarro-minded trumpeter was only 25 when a car accident claimed his life in 1956, but his influence remained long after his death – Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, Woody Shaw, Donald Byrd, and Carmell Jones were among the many trumpet titans who were heavily influenced by Brown. In the early to mid-'50s, Brown kept getting more and more exciting; those who found him impressive in 1952 found even more reason to be impressed in 1955. That means that when it comes to Brown's CDs, excellent doesn't necessarily mean essential. Recorded in 1953, the material on this 18-track CD isn't quite as essential as some of Brown's work with drummer Max Roach in 1954 and 1955, but is still superb.