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Ray Brown

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Ray Brown: His Life and Music is the first full-length biography of Ray Brown, one of the most outstanding practitioners of bass playing in jazz music. Brown’s career spans the most popular and creative eras of jazz, from 1940 to the dawn of the 21st century. During his early professional career, Ray Brown first toured with territory bands, and by 1946, he was hired by Dizzy Gillespie to play in his small group and big band. At this time, Brown became the first call New York bassist to accompany other bop musicians like Charlie Parker and Bud Powell. He also served as the bassist with Norman Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic and frequently recorded with an impressive stable of jazz musicians. In 1947 Ray Brown married legendary singer Ella Fitzgerald and soon divided his time by working as the leader of Fitzgerald's trio while playing with Gillespie, Jazz at the Philharmonic, and as a guest accompanist.

After first playing together at Carnegie Hall in 1949, Ray Brown began regularly working with Canadian piano sensation Oscar Peterson until 1965. The Peterson Trio would become one of the most lucrative acts in jazz history. After leaving Peterson, Ray Brown worked as a Los Angeles studio musician and played on numerous commercial recordings but never abandoned swing-based jazz. During these years, he also became involved as a manager, promoter, and teacher. Throughout the mid-1970s until he died in 2002, Ray Brown remained one of the most excellent practitioners of mainstream jazz during a time when some elements of the music moved far away from this style. With so many bop musicians succumbing to drugs and tragedy, Ray Brown's longevity and professionalism are a testament to his talents, intelligence, and professionalism.

Published: Oct 1, 2023