Ray Brown Day

October 13, 1926 – July 2, 2002

A tribute to the definitive jazz bassist

Bassist Raymond Brown was born on October 13, 1926 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Brown took piano lessons from the age of eight, switching to bass while in high school.

He at first worked often in Pittsburgh, freelancing with bands before moving to New York when he was 20.

On his first day in New York, he jammed with a group that included Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and Bud Powell, impressing the musicians so much that he was hired by Gillespie for his big band.

Brown, who kept impeccable time and had a large attractive tone, was soon being utilized by many of the top jazz artists including Charlie Parker, Art Tatum and Hank Jones.

Ray Brown was married to Ella Fitzgerald during 1947-53, became a regular with Jazz At The Philharmonic, and first teamed up with Oscar Peterson in 1949 when the pianist made his American debut.

Brown was a member of the Oscar Peterson Trio during 1951-66, both when Barney Kessel or Herb Ellis were on guitar and for the later unit that had Ed Thigpen on drums.

Brown also appeared on a countless number of recordings, with and without Peterson.

When he left the road in 1966, he spent time in Los Angeles doing studio work, accompanying singers, working as a manager for the Modern Jazz Quartet and Quincy Jones, and playing with a variety of jazz groups.

Brown never really slowed down, working with the L.A. Four during 1974-82 and heading his own trios which at different times featured pianists Gene Harris, Monty Alexander, Benny Green and Geoff Keezer.

Ray Brown was active until the end of his life.

Here is the Ray Brown Trio performing a Duke Ellington medley comprised of “Take The ‘A’ Train,” “Sophisticated Lady,” “Do Nothing ‘Till You Hear From Me” and “Cotton Tail.”

Personnel:

Ray Brown, bass
Benny Green, piano
Jeff Hamilton, drums

-Scott Yanow