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Josh Brown: The Education Of A Jazz Trombonist

By Published: August 12, 2008
There's no denying Brown's passion for music. However, his other passion while growing up, theater, almost led him to a career as an actor. "I had a pretty good respect for both things. Music and theater were the things that I was really passionate about. I have always been the personality that is either totally into something or I have absolutely no interest in it at all. In school, I had no interest in anything outside drama or music. So when it came to deciding—I was thinking about actually becoming an actor or something like that—I had to do some real soul searching and some people said to me 'Well, why don't you do both?' I think I was smart enough when I was that age (17 or 18) to know that they were both things that would take up as much time as I could give them. I knew that whatever decision I was going to make I was going to have to pour myself into it because, given the amount of musicians or actors out there, I didn't want to be a bad one."

So why music? "It was never something where I said 'OK, I am going to be a musician.' It was more 'I can't do anything else so I'd better be really good at this.'" He explains further, "Music was just something I always did and I couldn't really picture myself doing anything else. It was what I got and still do get most excited about."

Josh Brown Brown's passion for music is evident as soon as you get him talking about the subject, whether it is about his own playing or listening to others play. When asked to participate in AAJ's "Desert Island Picks" feature (if you were stranded on a desert island, which three CD's would you choose to bring with you?) it was clearly the question that Brown found most difficult to answer. So what did Brown choose out of his vast, beloved collection? "I would probably pick Sonny Side Up (Verve, 1957) which is under Dizzy Gillespie's name, but it's Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Stitt and Sonny Rollins. That's definitely one of the more joyful albums I've ever heard. I can't put that on and not be happy, it's pretty great."

"[Next] I'd have to pick something by J.J. Johnson just because he's my favorite trombone player. My parents had an album of his and I think I would still pick it. It's just a great quartet album called First Place (Columbia, 1957). My parents had it on vinyl and were like 'OK, if you are going to play the trombone, then you are going to want to listen to this guy.'"

And his final choice? "I'm looking at my huge collection and I am thinking if I can only have three things, what would it be? I guess that they are going to be all jazz but I'd miss some other stuff as well. I think I know—for now just because you're putting me on the spot—Duke Ellington's Such Sweet Thunder (Columbia/Legacy, 1957).

So what's next for Brown? "It's always good to have a lot of things on your plate. "Randy Napoleon and I are working on some stuff now. We want to try and put another album out in the next year. I've always loved the sound of a sextet—trumpet, trombone, and saxophone together. That's something I really want to delve into in at some point in the near future because I really like that front-line sound. There's a lot more I want to do ... I'm hardly finished!"

And so, after being "schooled" by the talented Canadian, it was clear to see that, at least in Brown's case, jazz education begins by learning that P+P+P=P: that is, Practice plus Pride plus Passion means that Josh Brown definitely knows how to Perform.

Selected Discography

Josh Brown, The Feeling of Jazz (Self Produced, 2006)
Michael Bublé, Caught in the Act (Reprise, 2005)

Photo Credit

Sarah Sloboda

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Download jazz mp3 “West Side Constitutional” by Josh Brown