Saturday, September 1, 2007

Clifford Brown and Max Roach - 1954 - Vol. 1
"Many a young musician has been sabotaged by his own considerable abilities. So caught up are they in technical execution that they give elements such as emotion and taste short shrift. Trumpeter Clifford Brown was a musical dynamo, a man who was capable of playing many instruments well and who possessed supreme natural instincts and boundless energy. Brown painstakingly practiced and perfected his technique, but when practice time gave way to playing time--there was no other time for him--Brown's command was so deeply ingrained that he was free to concentrate on those other elements: emotion and taste. This reissue of the 1954 recorded debut of the Brown-Roach quintet stands as one of the most exciting works in all of jazz, and it plays as if the ensemble knew it at the time. Brown's trumpet work is fiery, confident, and nimble, tempered slightly by Miles Davis's lyricism; his tone is bright and bold, but the icing on the cake is the joy and tenderness that surface. Drummer Max Roach was already a bop veteran when he formed this groundbreaking hard-bop band and he prances like a dancer throughout. Harold Land's grounded, relaxed, grainy tenor is the perfect yin to Brown's yang. Brown emerges here as the crucial link between Dizzy Gillespie and basically all hot trumpeters to follow, even though he was not yet 24 when he made these recordings. Among the four extra cuts on this remastered reissue are alternate versions of "Daahoud" and "Joy Spring," two Brown compositions that have become hard-bop cornerstones. --Marc Greilsamer