Thursday, June 29, 2006

Studying Brown

"Study in Brown" and "More Study in Brown," both from EmArcy, are two nice disks for hearing Clifford Brown in his justly famous combos with Max Roach. The solos are fairly brief and emphasis is placed on ensemble playing, but it's a tight ensemble and you can understand why the Brown-Roach grouping is notable despite being short lived as a result of Brown's tragic death in a car accident 50 years ago this week.

On "Study," Brown produces memorable soling on "Cherokee" and he and saxophonist Harold Land function as if one on an unusual version of Billy Strayhorn's Duke Ellington anthem "Take the A Train." (Everybody does it on "A Train," but if you wanna hear somebody really make his cymbals sound like a steam engine chugging, listen to Roach.)

I didn't put a stopwatch to it, but the solo space feels more expansive to me on "More Study." Plus, half the tracks have Sonny Rollins, who joined the group in Chicago after Land went back to California as I recall, on tenor sax. He and Brown are practically symbiotic, which is not to bad rap Harold Land, a guy I think should be remembered more prominently than he is. Kickin' Brown solo on "Jordu" and some spiffy bass work by George Morrow on "These Foolish Things."

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