Monday, December 7, 2009


The huge and comfortable sound of Ray Brown's bass was a welcome feature on bop-oriented sessions for over a half-century, playing with, and for, legends like Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, and Bud Powell. Brown's quick reflexes and ability to accompany soloists in a swinging fashion put him near the top of his field. After playing with Jazz at the Philharmonic, he married Ella Fitzgerald (their marriage only lasted during 1948-1952), and for a time led his own trio to back the singer. Brown recorded with an early version of the Modern Jazz Quartet (under Milt Jackson's leadership), and then became a permanent member of the Oscar Peterson Trio (1951-1966).

After leaving Peterson, Brown settled in Los Angeles, worked in the studios, continued recording jazz, and worked as a manager of several artists (including the Modern Jazz Quartet and Quincy Jones). He played with the L.A. Four starting in 1974, did a great deal to revive the careers of Ernestine Anderson and Gene Harris, and recorded extensively for Pablo and Concord.

One of Brown's more peculiar and funky efforts in his discography is the soundtrack to the film The Adventurers from 1970, and it's a mouthful of an album title: Harold Robbins Presents the Music of Antonio Carlos Jobim: Music from the Adventurers with the Ray Brown Orchestra Conducted by Quincy Jones. Though the film was a commercial and critical flop, the soundtrack became immortalized when Bjork sampled the track "Go Down Dying" for "Human Behavior."

Brown continued touring up until his death, dying in his sleep while napping before a show in Indianapolis on July 2, 2002.

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