Lawrence Brown Day

August 3, 1907 – September 5, 1988

Rockin’ In Rhythm

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Trombonist Lawrence Brown was born August 3, 1907 in Lawrence, Kansas.

The son of a minister, Brown (who grew up near Los Angeles) briefly played piano, violin, and tuba before becoming a trombonist.

While he studied medicine at college, music soon took over his life and at 19 he was a professional.

Brown worked with Paul Howard’s Quality Serenaders (1929-30), Curtis Mosby’s Blue Blowers and Les Hite’s Orchestra, recording with Howard and Hite including the latter’s sessions with Louis Armstrong.

He joined Duke Ellington’s orchestra in 1932 where his fluent style, distinctive sound and strong technique made him a major asset and a frequent soloist.

After 19 years, Brown left in 1951 to join Johnny Hodges’ combo, staying four years, doing studio work and sessions, and rejoining Ellington for an additional decade (1960-70) before gradually retiring.

From a 1969 telecast, Lawrence Brown takes the trombone solo during a rousing version of “Rockin’ In Rhythm” with the Duke Ellington Orchestra on the Ed Sullivan show; Cat Anderson’s high-note trumpet is not to be missed.

-Scott Yanow


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