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Anthony Brown

Percussionist, composer, ethnomusicologist, educator and Smithsonian Associate Scholar Dr. Anthony Brown is a seminal figure in the contemporary California creative music scene, directing the Asian American Orchestra in addition to performing with some of the foremost musicians in jazz today.

Since 1998, his Orchestra has received international critical acclaim for blending Asian musical instruments and sensibilities with the sonorities of the jazz orchestra. The Asian American Orchestra's recording of Duke Ellington-Billy Strayhorn's Far East Suite received a 2000 GRAMMY nomination for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Performance.

The late jazz saxophonist and MacArthur Fellow Steve Lacy joined as guest artist for the Orchestra's next recording, Monk's Moods. Rated as a "five-star masterpiece" and one of four "Best CDs of 2003" by Downbeat magazine, the recording features new interpretations of Thelonious Monk's compositions in collaboration with Monk's original producer, Orrin Keepnews. Dr. Brown can also be heard on over twenty other recordings on Water Baby, Asian Improv, Soul Note, Blue Note, Gramavision, and Hat Art Records.

Anthony Brown's musical career, spanning performance, composition, and education, dates back to the 1970's. A San Francisco native of Japanese and African/Native American descent who grew up around the world as an "Army brat," Dr. Brown has developed a unique compositional and performance voice reflective of his own intercultural heritage and experiences. His work in the early 1980's with the pioneering San Francisco-based jazz quartet, United Front, sparked an interest in blending non-Western compositional approaches and instruments with traditional jazz idioms and improvisation that he is still exploring today.

Jazz critic Neil Tesser wrote, "When it comes to integrating Asian musical traditions with jazz, no one has better credentials than percussionist and composer Anthony Brown. Brown even seems to have been born to the task ..." He grew up in California, Japan and Germany, writing Bach fugues in high school while penning his first blues compositions. His father was a thirty-five year career Army Sergeant Major of African/Choctaw heritage from South Carolina, and his mother is a native of Tokyo, Japan. While living in Japan as a preteen, Brown developed an interest in visual arts, and then began emulating his brother Michael, an electric guitarist and bassist who later toured with Bo Diddley. After returning stateside to Los Angeles in 1966, Brown switched to drums and began playing in Jimi Hendrix/Sly Stone-influenced bands with then-bassist/vocalist James Newton. They experimented with jazz in high school before Brown moved to Frankfurt, Germany in 1970, where he studied music theory and flute while playing in R&B/progressive rock dance bands.

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"If music is a language, then Berkeley percussionist and composer Anthony Brown is probably one of the most articulate men in jazz." —The San Francisco Chronicle

"...and Mr. Brown, swinging away on drums, made the piece levitate." —The New York Times


Album Discography



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