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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 jazz musicians from his generation succumbing to drugs and tragedy, Ray Brown's longevity and professionalism are a testament to his talents, intelligence, and professionalism.

Published: Sep 15, 2024


Section Chapter Authors
Foreword Alyn Shipton
Preface Jay Sweet
Chapter 1
The Steel City and the Aluminum Bass (1926-1944) Jay Sweet
Chapter 2
Working the Territory (1944-1945) Jay Sweet
Chapter 3
Dizzy, Bird, and Bop (1945-1946) Jay Sweet
Chapter 4
The Dizzy Gillespie Big Band (1946) Jay Sweet
Chapter 5
"The New Star" (1947) Jay Sweet
Chapter 6
Fitzgerald, Granz, and Peterson (1947-1949) Jay Sweet
Chapter 7
Time Changes: Fitzgerald to Peterson (1950) Jay Sweet
Chapter 8
The Oscar Peterson Duo and Early Trio (1950-1952) Jay Sweet
Chapter 9
Navigating the Changes: Transitions (1953) Jay Sweet
Chapter 10
The Studio Recordings of the First Classic Oscar Peterson Trio (1954-1958) Jay Sweet
Chapter 11
The JATP Tours and Records (1954-1958) Jay Sweet
Chapter 12
The Classic Oscar Peterson Trio with Singers (1954-1958) Jay Sweet
Chapter 13
The Session Recordings of the Classic Oscar Peterson Trio (1954-1958) Jay Sweet
Chapter 14
Sideman Sessions Without Peterson (1955-1958) Jay Sweet
Chapter 15
Bass Hits!, This Is Ray Brown and The Poll Winners (1956-1958) Jay Sweet
Chapter 16
The Second Classic Oscar Peterson Trio (Part 1) (1959-1961) Jay Sweet
Chapter 17
The Second Classic Oscar Peterson Trio (Part 2) (1962-1965) Jay Sweet
Chapter 18
Solo and Sideman Sessions (1959-1965) Jay Sweet
Chapter 19
Commercial Studio Efforts (1966-1969) Jay Sweet
Chapter 20
Jazz Efforts (1966-1969) Jay Sweet
Chapter 21
Sessions (1970-1974) Jay Sweet
Chapter 22
The L.A. Four (1974-1983) Jay Sweet
Chapter 23
Sideman Sessions (1975-1979) Jay Sweet
Chapter 24
Brown’s Bag: Albums listing Ray Brown as a Leader (1975-1979) Jay Sweet
Chapter 25
Milt Jackson, Dizzy Gillespie, Monty Alexander, and Notable Sideman Sessions (1980-1984) Jay Sweet
Chapter 26
The Ray Brown Trio with Gene Harris and Further Leadership (1980-1991) Jay Sweet
Chapter 27
Sideman Sessions (1985-1989) Jay Sweet
Chapter 28
Sessions (1990-1994) Jay Sweet
Chapter 29
Green and Brown: The Ray Brown Trio (1991-2002) Jay Sweet
Chapter 30
Some of My Best Friends and Final Sideman Sessions (1994-2002) Jay Sweet
Chapter 31
Super Bass (1991-2000) Jay Sweet
Chapter 32
Coda: Remembering Ray Brown Jay Sweet