October 30 is Clifford Brown’s 83rd birthday. Long since deceased (he died in a car crash in 1956 at age 25), his birthday is a reminder of the musical joy he shared with his listeners, and of his classic sound. For me, it is a time of remembrance and appreciation for the contribution he made to intensifying my interest in jazz. To this day, my memory is thick with the sound of “Joy Spring” filling my Berkeley apartment in the mid-1970’s, when I was falling in love with the music.
Check out what bandmate Harold Land said about Brown, and then treat yourself to a listen to “Joy Spring.”
“Clifford Brown was a very beautiful person. He had a very warm personality and usually seemed so relaxed it made me relaxed to be around him. In my opinion Brownie had a very even temperament, if that’s the best way to describe it, and a kind of wisdom or knowledge of himself and those around him, and of life in general, that one associates with someone quite a bit older than he was at the time. And to me these same qualities were evident when he expressed himself through his instrument. I have had more than one talented musician say to me, referring to Brownie, that he played his instrument like a young old man! And in each instance I’m sure they meant this statement to be an extremely beautiful compliment, that a man so young in years could acquire such command, depth, and broad musical scope in such a relatively short span of time. Playing with the fire and creativeness of a young man, and with the depth, tenderness, and insight into past, present, and future of an older man.”
– saxophonist Harold Land