Saturday, May 26, 2012

Freddie Crump - another forgotten genius

It seems as though I am always trying to track down forgotten drummers (Manzie Campbell, the drummer whom Papa Jo Jones proclaimed to be the best in the world, and John Kornfeld - the man who is credited with teaching Louis Cottrell sr. who may actually be the real root of US drum kit playing.) My quest to learn more about Crump started when a friend emailed this clip to me:

Unlike Cambell and Kornfeld, there is a wealth of information about the drummer, including personal reminiscences from those who remembered and played with him posted in response to the clip, to icons such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Victor Feldman. However, there are still gaps, such as when he was born, where he died, and the other details - personal and professional - that provide a portrait of a man's life.

Information provided with the clip included, Freddy Crump was with Gonzelle White's band 23-25 (with Count Basie). Thomas and Crump moved to Britain in 1937 and became a fixture in the Music Halls. In 1944 Crump joined the excellent Johnny Claes Big Band and did regular radio work on the BBC including his own comedy routines.

Comments by other viewers clearly indicated that Crump was well know in Europe up until his death in 1980. I managed to get that date from this Jazz Professional page.

He is also mentioned by the great Victor Feldman (see this article written by Michael Cerra.) Some research indicates that Crump was born in Richmond, VA (where I grew up), and judging from his age in the 1929 clip, he was born circa 1910.

A brief mention of him is in an August 20, 1938 article in The Afro American and Richmond Planet about his brother, Pleasant R. Crump. At that time, according to the article, Freddie was already in Europe. We know from other sources, including comments on the video, that Crump was a popular fixture in the UK. Also, he may have been based out of Denmark by the mid-1960s. This information is extrapolated from this document, which contains this tantalizing tidbit talking about Duke Ellington: Duke then introduced Freddie Crump, an American drummer who apparently had lived in Denmark for some time, known by Duke but unknown to us and not listed in any of the jazz encyclopedias.

Count Basie (who was with him in Gonzelle White's band from 1923 to 1925) mentioned him in his biography, Good Morning Blues, further indicating that Freddie was well known and remembered when you consider that Duke Ellington remembered him in the mid 1960s. Here is what Basie had to say:

I stumbled across these personal reminiscences in
JARS Issue 111 - March/April 1998 (Jazz at Ronnie Scott's newsletter):

Also, a very diminutive Mr. Crump had an uncredited role in a 1942 movie titled King Arthur Was a Gentleman (with a very young Victor Feldman also on drums.) Here is a clip:

One final photo I managed to track down:

We have some information about this remarkable (and from the accounts listed highly regarded and respected) man. There are still many pieces missing. If you can fill in the blanks, please do contact me or provide what information you may have in comments.

Oh, and how may of you were so focused on Freddie in the first clip that you failed to be stunned by the pianist starting around 4:10? My jaw dropped. He was as good on piano as Mr. Crump was on drums in my opinion.

Friday, May 25, 2012

I remember Clifford Part 3

In the previous posts about Clifford Brown - Part 1, Part 2 and an Part 1, addendum - I provided a list of albums on which he was leader or featured performer. This post will conclude with some albums on which he was a sideman or among other featured musicians.

I'll start with Sarah Vaughan's Complete Recordings with Clifford Brown. This was originally released with nine tracks in December 18, 1954 as Sarah Vaughan. Later a tenth track, an alternate version of Lullaby of Birdland was added to the original, then this expanded album with an additional ten tracks:
11. Lover Man (Bonus Track)
12. Shulie A Bop (Bonus Track)
13. Polka Dots & Moonbeams (Bonus Track)
14. Body & Soul (Bonus Track)
15. They Can't Take That Away From Me (Bonus Track)
16. Prelude To A Kiss (Bonus Track)
17. You Hit The Spot (Bonus Track)
18. If I Knew Then (What I Know Now) (Bonus Track)

Although Clifford Brown receives co-billing in the title (and his playing is beautiful), this album is all about Sarah and her own instrument: one of the most beautiful voices in jazz. That is not to say that having Clifford in the ensemble is not important because he will forever remain one of the most influential trumpeters. His performance on this album is simply beautiful.

However, the other musicians on this album and the arrangements and conducting (by Ernie Wilkins) all contribute to what I consider to be one of Sarah's best albums and one I recommend to friends who want a good starting point into her music. Those musicians are: Paul Quinichette on tenor, Herbie Mann on flute, Jimmy Jones on piano (with John Malachi on track 12), Joe Benjamin on bass and Roy Haynes on drums.

Some tracks from that album:

Dinah Washington was backed by Clifford and an all star ensemble in August 1954 in Hollywood. This session was performed before a studio audience and captured on Dinah Jams (with some additional material from the same recording sessions on Jam Session. My personal favorite track is:

The above is also on Compact Jazz album that is worth checking out if you are a Dinah Washington fan. Why I love that album is her rendition of I Remember Clifford - Benny Golson's moving tribute to Brown who died at a young 25 - is so soulful that it evokes tears. I digress. Back to the album - here is another great track:

The above ensemble consists of the core Brown-Roach group consisting of Clifford on trumpet, Max Roach on drums, Richie Powell on piano, George Morrow on bass and Harold Land on tenor.
Other musicians in the jam included Herb Geller on alto Junior Mance on piano and Keter Betts on bass. Fellow trumpeters Maynard Ferguson and Clark Terry also sat in, and Dihah Washington handled vocals.

Helen Merrill recorded an album with Clifford in December 1954 that is worth tracking down: Helen Merrill with Clifford Brown. Arranged by Quincy Jones with Helen Merrill on vocals, Clifford Brown on trumpet, Milt Hinton on bass, Danny Bano on flute, bass clarinet and baritone sax, Osie Johnson on drums, Barry Galbraith on guitar, and Hank and Jimmy Jones on piano. Some tracks which make this album worhtwhile:

A bonus is this jam at Eric Dolphy's home in Los Angeles in the summer of 1954. Eric Dolphy on alto, Clifford Brown on trumpet, Harold Land on tenor, Richie Powell on piano, George Morrow on bass and Max Roach on drums.

Parting notes. Clifford's son, Clifford Brown, Jr. is an announcer at KCSM Jazz 91.1 FM in San Mateo, CA. Also, for die hard fans Brownie: The Complete EmArcy Recordings Of Clifford Brown contains over 14 hours of Clifford's recordings.

Addendum to I remember Clifford Part 2

In my haste to wrap up my last post I overlooked this gem: Clifford Brown All Stars: Caravan. This was recorded August 11, 1954. The All Stars are Clifford (of course), with Herb Geller and Joe Maini jr. on alto, Walter Benton on tenor, Curtis Counce on bass, Kenny Drew on piano and Max Roach on drums. The album consists of two tracks: Caravan (clocks in at 15:17) and Autumn in New York (clocks in at 21:45). Here is a truncated clip from Caravan to give a taste of what is on the album:

From a review I posted on another site: This is one of the most energetic albums to come from the Brown and Roach collaboration. Caravan, as performed by the ensemble, is at a tempo that I am sure was never envisioned by Juan Tizol and Duke Ellington when they wrote it. That it maintains that tempo and sense of energy for over fifteen minutes is a marvel in itself, but the real treat is Brown whose tone any ability to articulate every note at the tempo is why he will always be remembered as one of the greatest trumpeters ever born.

Autumn in New York has long been one of my personal favorite tunes, with Billie Holiday's rendition at the top of my list. This rendition is my second favorite. Brown's intro and one exquisite chorus after another provides 21 minutes of sheer joy.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

I remember Clifford Part 2

In Part 1 I provided some of my favorite albums in which Clifford was a leader of co-leader. I also referenced a pair of essential albums featuring Clifford at Birdland with Art Blakey in this post. In this post I am going to add a few additional essential albums. In my final post that should be finished in another day or so, I'll provide some nice-to-have albums on which Clifford backed Sarah Vaughan and Dinah Washington.

First is the Complete Quebec Jam Session. This album delivers a lot more than the title suggests. It not only contains the July 28, 1955 in Quebec, but radio and TV broadcasts through 1956. While the quality is spotty, the value of this album remains high for Clifford Brown fans because it provides even more examples of his playing.

Tracks 1-6 are the Quebec jam. Clifford on trumpet, with Rob McConnell on trombone, Harold Land on tenor, Max Roach on drums and Richie Powell on piano and George Morrow on bass. Here is a clip from that part of the album forgive the noodling - it adds to the ambiance in my opinion:

Tracks 7-11 are from a radio broadcast from the Bee-Hive, Chicago on November 1955. Clifford on trumpet, Billy Wallace on piano, Max Roach on drums, George Morrow on bass, Leo Blevins on guitar and Sonny Rollins and Nick Hill on tenor.
Tracks 12 & 13 are from a radio broadcast from the Storyville Club, Boston in early 1955. Clifford Brown on trumpet, Max Roach on drums, George Morrow in bass, Richie Powell on piano and Harold Land on tenor. From that broadcast:

Tracks 14 & 15 are from a Soupy Sales TV program from Low Angeles in early 1956 (a nostalgic trip for we baby boomers!) Clifford was backed by Richie Powell on piano, Max Roach on drums and George Morrow on bass. Here it is:

For a die hard Clifford Brown fan this is an essential addition to a collection because it provides further examples of his playing in less formal settings and on radio (and TV) broadcasts.

Next up is Clifford Brown and Max Roach at Basin Street. This is a live recording captured at the Basin Street Club, NY on May 6,1956. The historic value of this album is that it's the last non-bootleg recording that Clifford (and Richie Powell) made. Both perished shortly afterwards in a car accident, depriving jazz of one of the most gifted trumpeters and solid pianists. In addition, there is Sonny Rollins who had established himself as a force to be reckoned with as both a leader and sideman by the time he appeared on this album.
Each track features Clifford's gorgeous tone and playing, but I agree with another reviewer that Richie Powell's piano was a standout too. I guess lights burn the brightest before they are extinguished. The rest of the rhythm section comprised of George Murrow on bass and the great Max Roach on drums laid a perfect foundation for Clifford and Sonny. From the album:

Last Concert. I am not going to argue about sound quality, which is admittedly less than optimum. Instead I am grateful for the legacy left behind on this album. To put it into perspective, would a newly discovered yet marginally audible and scratchy wax cylinder of Buddy Bolden merit disappointment or elation? For me it would be elation.
Tracks 1-7 were recorded at the Continental Restaurant in Norfolk, Virginia on June 18, 1956. Eight days later both Clifford and pianist Richie Powell (also on this disc) would perish in a car accident. The ensemble captured on this recording consisted of Clifford on trumpet, Sonny Rollins on tenor, Richie Powell on piano, Max Roach on drums, and George Morrow on bass. For those who do not know - Richie was Bud Powell's brother. Clifford's tone, articulation and musical genius are all evident on every track. The entire ensemble is hot and in spite of the recording quality is an historic treasure and shining example of music at its best in my opinion. From that session:

The remaining tracks are from the 1955 Newoport Jazz Festival, recorded a little less than a year earlier (July 16, 1955). This set (tracks 8-12) includes Clifford on trumpet, Harold Land on tenor, Richie Powell on piano, Max Roach on drums and George Morrow on bass. The last track is spectacular. It's a jam with the following musicians: Chet Baker and Clifford on trumpet, Paul Desmond on alto, Gerry Mulligan on baritone, and the rhythm section comprised of Dave Brubeck on piano, Norman Bates on bass and Joe Dodge on drums (essentially the Dave Brubeck Quartet as it existed at that time, plus Clifford, Chet and Gerry.) here is the finale from that venue:

In my final post I will provide some albums on which Clifford backed some of my favorite divas. Enjoy.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I remember Clifford Part 1

When I was writing Some of my favorite Jazz Messenger albums Part 1 I was drawn back into two favorite albums. Those were the two volumes of Clifford with Art Blakey at Birdland: A Night At Birdland, Vol. 1 and A Night At Birdland, Vol. 2. Those sent me off on a listening (and buying) spree of more Clifford Brown. Here is a sample track from each of the volumes:

I wanted to share those because in the previous posts I did not include any examples. In this post and subsequent ones I will not make that same mistake. Continuing, the next albums I want to share is really a value-priced four-album set called Four Classic Albums (Brown and Roach Inc. / Jam Session / Study in Brown / New Star on the Horizon). This set crams the four albums on two CDs and contains the following: Disc 1: first seven tracks are the 1954 album Brown And Roach (full title: Brown and Roach Incorporated). Personnel on this album are Clifford Brown (trumpet); Max Roach (drums); Harold Land (tenor saxophone); Richie Powell (piano); George Morrow (bass). Here is a track from that album:

The remainder of Disc 1 (tracks 8-10) and track 1 of disc 2 is Jam Session recorded in Hollywood, CA in Oct 14 1954. The entire ensemble consists of the core Brown-Roach group consisting of Clifford on trumpet, Max Roach on drums, Richie Powell on piano, George Morrow on bass and Harold Land on tenor. Other musicians in the jam included Herb Geller on alto Junior Mance on piano and Keter Betts on bass. Fellow trumpeters Maynard Ferguson and Clark Terry also sat in, and Dihah Washington handled vocals. Here are two tracks from that album:

Study in Brown is on disc 2, tracks 2-10. It was recorded on February 23-25 1955 and released later that year. Personnel on this album are Clifford Brown (trumpet); Max Roach (drums); Harold Land (tenor saxophone); Richie Powell (piano); George Morrow (bass). Here is a clip from that album:

The final tracks on disc 2 (11-16) are from New Star on the Horizon which is a subset of Memorial Album (The Rudy Van Gelder Edition). As far as I know, New Star on the Horizon - released in 1954 - has long been out of print. The personnel on these tracks are: Clifford Brown (trumpet), John Lewis (piano), Gigi Gryce, (alto saxophone and flute), Charlie Rouse(tenor saxophone), Percy Heath (bass) and Art Blakey (drums). A track from the album:

This is not the end of my remembering Clifford posts - tomorrow I will continue with Part 2 ... and beyond because I have more material than I can deal with in one of two posts.