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Ray Brown was a Grammy Award-winning double-bassist who played a leading role in defining the modern jazz rhythm.
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In 1947 Gillespie assembled a smaller group inside his big band which included Brown, Milt Jackson, pianist John Lewis and drummer Kenny Clarke. As Jackson told Whitney Baillett, in American Musicians II, "We'd play and let the band have a rest. I guess it was Dizzy's idea." Attending an August 1947 Gillespie big band session Brown's bass is heard on such numbers as "Ow!," "Oop-Pop-A- Da," and John Lewis' "Two Bass Hit" which Brown's bass is heard driving the band and, at the composition's close,
soloing with force and a controlled sense of melody. On December 10, 1947, Brown married vocalist Ella Fitzgerald in Ohio and moved into a residence on Ditmars Boulevard in the East Elmhurst section of Queens, New York. Soon afterward, the couple adopted a son, Ray Jr.
After leaving Gillespie's band in 1947, Brown and performed with Fitzgerald on Norman Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic tours and various record dates. "When I left Dizzy," commented Brown in Ella Fitzgerald, "the band was getting ready to go to Europe, and I couldn't. I'd just gotten married to Ella Fitzgerald. At that time I was in a bit of a curl between her and wanting to be with her as well. She wanted me to travel with her trio; she had Hank Jones playing piano. So I finally decided I was going to stay in New York." During a concert series in September 1949, Brown performed when Canadian-born pianist Oscar Peterson made his debut with the tour (according to Brown, he had already performed with Peterson at informal Canadian jam sessions). In 1950 Brown and Peterson performed as a duo, and for the next several years, were also billed on various tours. In 1950 Brown recorded with Charlie Parker and, between 1950 and 1952, appeared with the Milt Jackson Quartet. The quartet's pianist John Lewis recounted in The Great Jazz Pianists, "We were all friends and would play together when Dizzy's band wasn't working." At another Parker session in August 1951, Brown found himself in the company of such sidemen as trumpeter Red Rodney, John Lewis, and drummer Kenny Clarke. Together they backed Parker on sides which included "Swedish Schnapps," "Si Si," "Back Home Blues," and "Lover Man." A few months later, Brown appeared with the Milt Jackson Quartet, and on March 25, 1952 Brown attended a Charlie Parker big band recording session in Hollywood, California.
In 1952 Brown and guitarist Irving Ashby became the founding members of the Oscar Peterson Trio. Ashby's replacement, Barney Kessel, performed with the trio a year before Peterson recruited guitarist Herb Ellis who, along with Brown on bass, formed one of the most famed jazz trios of the 1950s. "Herb and I rehearsed all the time," stated Brown in Oscar Peterson: The Will to Swing. "For a trio that didn't have any drums, we had it all. Herb and I roomed together and we played everyday. Not just the gig. We played golf in the morning and guitar and bass in the afternoon, and then we would shower, take a nap, go to dinner, and go to the gig. We had it all." Under Peterson's leadership, Brown and Ellis underwent a challenging musical regimen.
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