Clifford Brown Memorial Album // Clifford Brown (Prestige PR 16008)

Another Clifford Brown album?  There’s a method to my madness.  The method?  Jazz is connected!  Continuing with the theme of ‘arranger jazz’, here’s another album that features a small group of musicians playing material specially written and arranged for them, this time featuring an arranger that has been making headlines recently.  To the music!

The Music


The Tune:  “Falling In Love With Love”

Recorded:  15 September, 1953 in Stockholm, Sweden

Personnel:

  • Clifford Brown-  Trumpet
  • Art Farmer-  Trumpet
  • Arne Domnerus-  Alto Sax
  • Lars Gullin-  Baritone Sax
  • Ake Persson-  Trombone
  • Bengt Hallberg-  Piano
  • Gunnar Johnson-  Bass
  • Jack Noren-  Drums
  • Quincy Jones- Leader and arranger

This album is a tale of two moods.  The first side features music that is as laid back and cool as a Californian summer night.  Arranged and led by Quincy Jones, the music features an all-star group of Swedish jazz musicians, plus Americans Art Farmer and Clifford Brown.  Forgetting that the music was recorded in Sweden, the vibe and sound is nearly identical to a West Coast jazz album, with the horns moving and breathing together.  Jones’ colorful arranging creates rich, dense ensemble statements, amply displayed in the featured track above.  There’s a brief latin opening where the ensemble moves as one, with the piano interjecting some tasty and rich chords, before the melody is stated.  This track is actually the reason why I bought this album.

The next side is a completely different story.

Arranged, led, and featuring original compositions by Tad Dameron, the musicians are completely different (with the notable exception of Clifford Brown) and have a completely different sound.  Part of the reason for the new sound is guys on the date.  With musicians like Benny Golson, Gigi Gryce, and the crackling drumming of Philly Joe Jones, the music has fire and spunk.  Another reason for its different sound is the recording itself.  The Swedish recordings sound full with decent fidelity.  These recordings, made back in the States at the Prestige studios by Rudy Van Gelder, sound rather tinny and bright, with low fidelity.  Interesting.  The tunes themselves are nice enough, although I must admit to not being the biggest fan of Tad Dameron’s piano playing.

Fun fact:  To all the people that hate rap and the hippity hoppity music, it may interest you to know that hip hop artists often use jazz in their beats.  In some cases, they flat-out borrow (sample) a jazz song and make it their own.  A hip hop group did just that with a song from this album.  The Sound Providers took the beginning of “Falling In Love With Love” and worked their magic on it, updating it for their own purposes.  Here’s their song “Yes Y’all”- the instrumental version.  Long live Clifford Brown!

The Cover

IMG_9908College Jazz Collector Rating:  C-

It’s a basic album cover, made more basic by the large amount of white space.  It could’ve been used better.  The original album cover from the first pressing is slightly better, although I’m curious why a dreary picture of a playground is being used…  The art directors took a holiday on this album.memorial-prestige-2

The Back

img_0004.jpgA decent set of liners by Ira Gitler.  Fantasy Records had Ralph Gleason, Verve had Norman Granz, and Prestige had Ira Gitler.  I don’t know what was this album, but both the front and the back are crooked.  It’s pretty surprising that the white paper is still white, even after the passage of fifty years.

The Vinyl

Like I said earlier, the album was originally released in 1956 and then again in 1964.  This is the 1964 pressing.  It’s non-deep groove and has the then-new minimalist blue label.  The runnout has ‘RVG’ handwritten into it, giving what should be the stamp of audio approval.  Side one is fantastic, side two not so much.  It was 1953, so maybe Rudy was still figuring it out?  That and/or Prestige’s equipment wasn’t the best?  The record is pretty thick and in great shape, playing near silently.

The Place of Acquisition

Good ol’ eBay.

Oh, and as for the controversial Quincy Jones?  Check out his recent interviews in GQ magazine and thevulture.com.  Mercy.

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