Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

1

Rich Pulin: Clifford Brown and "It's You, LaRue"

Nicholas F. Mondello By

Sign in to view read count
Celebrated trombonist, trumpeter, composer/arranger, producer, educator and Las Vegas-based radio host, Rich Pulin shares background here about the great trumpeter, Clifford Brown and the love of Clifford's life, his wife, LaRue and his "co-authorship" of what might possibly be the last composition Brownie had written.

All About Jazz: Rich, On behalf of All About Jazz, thanks for speaking with us.

Rich Pulin: Thank you, Nick.

AAJ: This is a fascinating bit of jazz history. What the genesis of "It's You, LaRue?"

RP: Purportedly, the song "LaRue" not only was Clifford's last composition before his tragic untimely demise, but it was a love song that he wrote to and for his wife, LaRue Brown. He played it for her on the Santa Monica Beach the night he proposed to her.

AAJ: You mentioned that Clifford's widow, LaRue came to you to write the lyrics?

RP: That's right. LaRue and I had become close friends in Los Angeles in the mid-1970's. We even co-hosted a radio show to celebrate what would have been Brownie's 49th birthday. Clark Terry, Blue Mitchell and other greats called in to share memories. I still have the tape and may post it on the Early Childhood Music Education Foundation website. One day, LaRue, shocked me when she asked me to write a lyric to Clifford's composition, "LaRue."

AAJ: I know that you play both trombone and trumpet. Were you a Clifford fan? Why?

RP: From the time I can remember, I was a huge Clifford Brown fan. Why? He had the greatest harmonic concept of any trumpeter up to that point. His beautiful and unique tone was unmatchable and Clifford's technique was light-years ahead of anyone on the scene.

AAJ: What year did you write the lyric lines?

RP: LaRue asked me in 1977 and I did it right away—no delay.

AAJ: Is the version with your lyrics recorded? Who recorded it? Is it available?

RP: The Cunningham's recorded it on Discovery Records in the 1980s. It was nominated for a jazz vocal group Grammy in 1989. Yes, it is available.

AAJ: I know that other musicians/singers have put "vocalese" lyrics to "Joy Spring" and other Brownie tunes. How is "It's You, LaRue" unique?

RP: Great question. Clifford was better known for the more up-tempo material. A beautiful and luscious ballad like "LaRue" was a bit of a musical departure... so poignant. And the timing... whew!

AAJ: I know Kenny Dorham recorded Clifford's "LaRue." Are there any other instrumental versions out there? Clifford Brown III, Clifford's grandson—also a fine trumpeter-has a You Tube clip of him performing it.

RP: You can hear an Italian band playing it on You Tube too. And, I've always heard that Sonny Rollins recorded it, but I've never found or heard it.

AAJ: I wonder why Brownie didn't write lyrics to the tune? Any thoughts on that?

RP: Not everyone can write meaningful words. There's a big difference between creating musical notes and thoughts and words that are expressive. That's why among the Great American Songwriters, only a few did both.

AAJ: What was your creative process as you worked up the lyrics?

RP: A darkened room. I meditated and put myself in another realm. I felt Clifford present. I felt he actually helped me. When I handed the completed manuscript to La Rue Brown, she broke down in tears. I said, "LaRue, was it that bad?" to which she answered, "No, Rich. It is so beautiful. There are words and thoughts in the lyrics that heretofore only Cliff and I knew!"

AAJ: Was the process difficult?

RP: No, not at all!

AAJ: Why not?

RP: Spiritual guidance.

AAJ: What do you think Brownie would "say" about your lyrics?

RP: Well, since he helped me from "the great beyond," I'd like to think that he might say something like, "Rich, our song turned out great" or something like that.

AAJ: Have you done this with any other tunes? Brownie or any other?

RP Yes, although I write music and lyrics to my own songs, I provide music for folks that have meaningful lyrics, as well as the reverse—like "LaRue," or "It's You, LaRue" as it is now entitled—the version with lyrics. I do this all the time. I'm writing a lyric right now to an incredibly beautiful melody written by UK saxophonist, Mike Smith.

AAJ: The tune and your lyrics are so beautiful, so apropos. Is "It's You, LaRue" available for artists for use? Who owns the rights?

RP: All songs require a publisher's approval—RP Music, in the case of "It's You, La Rue." BMI has the rights and the estate of Clifford Brown, of course, has their interest, too.

AAJ: Rich, this has been a fascinating conversation. Thanks for bringing this bit of history to our readers.

RP: My pleasure, Nick. It is always been a pleasure, honor and distinction to have my name associated with Clifford Brown and his music. Thank You!

Tags

Listen

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Shop

Start your shopping here and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Interviews
David Crosby: A Revitalized Creativity
By Mike Jacobs
January 22, 2019
Interviews
Chuck Deardorf: Hanging On To The Groove
By Paul Rauch
January 19, 2019
Interviews
Satoko Fujii: The Kanreki Project
By Franz A. Matzner
January 9, 2019
Interviews
Ted Rosenthal: Dear Erich, A Jazz Opera
By Ken Dryden
January 7, 2019
Interviews
Jeremy Rose: on new music, collaborations and running a label
By Friedrich Kunzmann
January 6, 2019
Interviews
Ronan Skillen: Telepathic Euphoria
By Seton Hawkins
January 5, 2019