Clifford Brown and Max Roach in 1954: New Research


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Jazz history is all about revisionism. New material about musicians—biographical information, newly discovered recordings and photos, corrected anecdotes and stories -are some of the areas where history is constantly evolving. This is an important process and writers should always be aware of it and report its occurrences.

Since I published my book on Clifford Brown Clifford Brown: The Life and Art of the Legendary Jazz Trumpeter (Oxford University Press, 2000) I have been contacted by individuals who have provided valuable revisionist material which I have acknowledged in this column. The latest material comes from James Harrod, a self- described jazz researcher and blogger who lives in Irvine, California.

Harrod's latest blog fills in some strategic blanks about the spring and summer of 1954 when Brownie went out to California to join Max Roach and form a new quintet. The episode begins in April when the new quintet opened at the California Club and included Sonny Stitt in the group. Harrod notes that a local Bobby Bradford caught the group and he includes an interesting interview that Bradford did with one Ben Young. The club is described as being at "Santa Barbara and Western" and a flyer that Harrod includes gives the address as 1759 W. Santa Barbara.

Harrod inserts a photo of an AFM contract with Max dated April 28th that includes the names of Teddy Edwards, George Bledsoe, and Carl Perkins thus corroborating what I wrote in my book. He adds a note about the group's appearance at the "Sartu theater" in L.A. and includes a "Playgoer" advertisement of the venue on Hollywood Blvd.

Throughout, Harrod's blog contains several photos of Brownie, his wife La Rue, Max, and other musicians. Equally important are reproductions of engagement contracts, venue advertisements, album jacket covers, critical commentary, and production notes.

Fans, scholars, writers and producers will all find James Harrod's blog incisive and informative. His contribution to Clifford Brown's legacy is essential as the revisionist history of this great jazz artist continues to unfold.

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