Clifford Brown

“Clifford Brown was a genius,” Benny Golson simply stated just after the great jazz trumpeter’s passing in 1956 (Catalano 186). Brown was an unconventionally brilliant, young, and determined force in the bebop scene, even among his ever-practicing contemporaries, and became one of the greatest trumpeters in jazz history. In addition, he composed and arranged many pieces, including the self-defining Sandu.
Born in Wilmington, Delaware, on October 30th, 1930, (Olsen) Brown was subjected immediately to an unusually cultured life. Although his family had little money, the East Side of Wilmington, where the Brown family resided, was cultured. There was always talk at the dinner table of politics, art, and most of all, music. His father, Joe Brown, was not trained in music, but still enjoyed experimenting with the many instruments he had in his collection. One of these was a trumpet, which young Clifford would often try to acquire, usually knocking it off the high shelf on which it was perched. He desired to have the shiny instrument in his hands rather than play it (Catalano 15). As Clifford matured, however, he began playing the trumpet in junior high school. By the time he met his first real influence in his junior year of high school, he had progressed notably as a trumpeter and had serious musical interest. That influence was Boysie Lowery, a band leader in the Philadelphia scene. Fifteen years Brown’s elder, he was the first to teach Brown and a number of other students jazz elements such as changes, jazz phrasing, and how to “hear” the changes and improvise on what they heard (Catalano 18). At about the same time, a new band teacher came to Howard Hughes, named Harry Andrews. Andrews was a veteran of the war who had led a military band and played trumpet. Under his tutelage, the young Brown worked heavily on his embouchure and technical elements of the instrument, developing the warm, full timbre he became known for (Catalano 22). In addition, Andrews...