- NAME: Clifford Brown
- OCCUPATION: Songwriter, Trumpet Player
- BIRTH DATE: October 30, 1930
- DEATH DATE: June 26, 1956
- Did You Know?: Quincy Jones nicknamed Clifford Brown "Pogo" after the comic strip character because of his hat and his size.
- EDUCATION: University of Delaware, Maryland State College, Howard High School
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Wilmington, Delaware
- PLACE OF DEATH: Pennsylvania
- Nickname: Brownie
- Full Name: Clifford Brown
- Nickname: Pogo
Best Known For
Clifford Brown amazed his peers with his ability to blend technique with emotion to create a rich, full sound that earned him praise as the "preeminent trumpeter."
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Born in Delaware in 1930, Clifford Brown began exhibiting extraordinary expertise on the trumpet in his early teens. His rich tone, virtuoso technique and graceful style kept Brown continually working and growing in popularity. He was especially noted for his ability to improvise in long, melodic phrases. The jazz standard "Joy Spring" (1954) is one of his best-known songs. Tragically killed in a car accident in 1956, at age 25,
"Clifford Brown was in the jazz circles considered to be probably the greatest trumpet player who ever lived."
"Clifford was a profound influence on my personal life. He showed me that it was possible to live a good, clean life and still be a good jazz musician."
"He was the sweetest, humblest, most intelligent cat in the world and the greatest trumpet player I've ever known."
"Now, I knew that among all the younger players, Clifford was head and shoulders above the rest, at least in my opinion he was."
Brown has been praised as the "greatest trumpeter that ever lived" by musicians such as Herb Alpert and Quincy Jones.
Born on October 30, 1930, in Wilmington, Delaware, Clifford Brown began playing the trumpet at the age of 13, after his father gave him the instrument as a gift upon entering Howard High School. Showing great skill as a musician early on, Brown played in his high school band and other musical groups, with band instructor Harry Andrews serving as a significant early influence. But it was his jazz instructor, Robert "Boysie" Lowery, who really made the trumpet "click" for "Brownie," as Brown came to be known; he credited the music teacher with giving him an integral understanding of jazz chord changes and improvisation.
Brown was so good, in fact, that he was awarded a music scholarship by the University of Delaware, despite the school not having a music department at the time. He dutifully studied mathematics there for a year before transferring to Maryland State College, where he would both play in and compose for the school's respected 16-piece jazz band.
Clifford Brown began making his mark professionally upon traveling to Philadelphia and sitting in with jazz greats such as Dizzy Gillespie, Fats Navarro and Charlie "Bird" Parker, who credited himself with discovering Brown. During this period, the young trumpeter grew to view Gillespie as a father figure and idolize Navarro.
The bebop sound that Charlie Parker created morphed with Clifford Brown's style of attacking every note, and came to be called "hard bop." What was equally noted, alongside Brown's virtuoso ability, was his nature—kind, hard-working, clean-living, committed to excellence and humble—a counterpoint to the stereotypical jazz musician's reputation.
But Brown's career would soon come to a halt: While returning from a gig in June 1950, the trumpeter was seriously injured in an auto accident, spending nearly a year afterward in the hospital.
Fortunately, Brown was able to resume his career. He began recording in March 1952, impressing his contemporaries with his extraordinary ability to synergistically blend his technical expertise with a full, rich and graceful tone. He was especially noted for his masterful improvisations in long, flowing, melodic phrases.
Brown soon left Philly for Atlantic City, joining Lionel Hampton's band to tour Europe in the company of some of the best musicians of the day. He returned to work with West Coast musicians in the Art Blakey Quintet, and then teamed up with powerhouse drummer Max Roach in 1954 to form the Brown-Roach Quintet, which was quickly in high demand.
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