Tracks 8-11 are bonus tracks.
Recorded August 1954 in Hollywood and February 1955 in New York City
According to the original 1955 liner notes to Clifford Brown and Max Roach, the announcement that Clifford Brown and Max Roach had begun recording and playing together sent shock waves throughout the jazz community and predictions ran rampant about how the two might shape bop to come. The last duo to really shape the music had begun over ten years earlier, with the relationship between Bird and Diz. This recording was early fruit from a tree that would only live as long as Clifford Brown was around to water it (1956, the year of his tragic auto accident). The result is by far some of the warmest and most sincere bebop performed and committed to tape. Brown's tone is undeniably and characteristically warm, and he keeps the heat on alongside Roach's lilting vamps and pummeling solos. What really keeps this record on the orange side of things (other than the decidedly orange cover) is the solo work of saxophonist Harold Land, who plays part Bird and part Benny Goodman. His tone is as delightful as it gets on the sultry "Deliah" and as bop-expressive as it gets on "The Blues Walk" and "Parisian Thoroughfare," where he and Brownie go head to head blowing expressive runs of sheer New York-style jazz. This collection of songs runs a nice gamut between boplicity and pleasant balladry. It represents bop at its best and is recommended for collectors and casual fans alike.
"Clifford Brown and Max Roach" was the first recording of a quintet that changed jazz. It was tragically short lived; Clifford Brown and pianist Richie Powell (Bud's brother) were to die in the same car crash within two years of the album's release, an event that affected Max Roach for years to come.
The music is based in bop but has outgrown its origins to such an extent that it is clearly one of the first great examples of hard bop. Clifford Brown is superb on trumpet, building clear, precise melody lines with such authority and control for a mere 24 year old. As many have observed, to get from Louis Armstrong to modern trumpeters, in addition to Miles Davis, Fats Navarro and Lee Morgan, you have to give very serious consideration to Clifford Brown. His solos, for example on Duke Jordan's "Jordu" or on the three Clifford Brown originals, "Daahoud", "The Blues Walk" and "Joy Spring", now jazz standards, are beautifully controlled yet expressive.
Harold Land, much overlooked, plays fluid, sinuous saxophone and shares real understanding with Clifford Brown in the many unison passages before breaking out into inventive and innovative solos. Richie Powell and George Morrow on piano and bass add to the modern, open approach inspired by Max Roach's fine drumming.
Before forming this quintet with Clifford Brown, Max Roach had already established a lasting place in the history of the development of jazz, playing drums for Coleman Hawkins and Dizzy Gillespie before appearing on nearly all of Charlie Parker's classic bebop recordings and on Miles Davis's "Birth of the Cool". He transformed jazz drumming, pioneering an open style with emphasis away from heavy use of bass drum towards more subtle development of cross rhythms on ride cymbal, high hat and snare rim. His prodigious technique virtually defined modern jazz drumming. This is clearly the case on "What Am I Here For?", the Duke Ellington composition, which also highlights how tight the ensemble playing is.
"These Foolish Things", the 1930s show tune by Jack Strachey and Harold Link, showcases the bass playing of George Morrow, using bass as a lead instrument, a further innovation.
"Parisian Thoroughfare", the Bud Powell composition, is perhaps the highlight, starting and finishing with a coy impromptu imitation of Parisian traffic sounds, it opens out into a beautifully balanced and relaxed expression of the confidence and optimism of the mid 'fifties.
In their two years together, the band toured extensively, heading East from its West Coast origins, taking New York, Max Roach's adopted home town since the age of four, by storm. On that journey, the music, as summed up by the final album "At Basin Street", became faster and more uncompromising, losing much of the freshness of this first album. It was two years in which Clifford Brown emerged as an undisputed jazz great and the Max Roach-Clifford Brown quintet set a standard for tight improvised jazz that has seldom been surpassed.
Some jazz trumpet players paint pretty landscapes, others smear notes like they're spreading butter on a biscuit. Clifford Brown-the pied piper of post bop who was killed in 1956 at age twenty-five in an accident on the Pennsylvania Turnpike-played like he was lighting firecrackers. His attack was dizzyingly precise. He placed notes exactly on the part of the beats he intended to hit.
He had the spark of great bebop and the lazy warmth of cool jazz. And whether the music moved at a technically demanding clip or was to be caressed at ballad tempo, the soft-spoken musician his friends called "Brownie" had a way of nudging things toward greatness. "He could change from a meek lamb, musically, into a fierce tiger," saxophonist Benny Golson once said of Brown, whose recording career spanned just four years. "He could play the bottom, top, loud, soft. He was playing the whole instrument."
This album, the first of several featuring a group Brown coled with drummer Max Roach (1924-2007), offers endless examples-the exquisite bebop of "Daahoud," the fanciful clip of "Parisian Thoroughfare," the slalom-like chord sequence of Brown's original "Joy Spring," which catches him doing one of the neatest bob-and-weave maneuvers in all of jazz.
Also notable is Golson's "Blues Walk," which Brown treats more like a blues chase-he keeps the trumpet in constant motion, tossing out genius lines left and right, and when he finally finishes, it feels like he's just run a marathon. And somehow carved a masterpiece of sculpture along the way.
All Music Guide