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Complete Studio Recordings

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Album Review

The odd billing for this two-fer reissue, to the Clifford Brown/Sonny Rollins/Max Roach Quintet (a name that never graced a marquee), may help explain the album title, Complete Studio Recordings. Rollins was the last occupant of the saxophone chair in the Clifford Brown - Max Roach Quintet, joining in late 1955 and remaining until Brown and pianist Richie Powell were killed in a car accident in June 1956. During that time, the quintet recorded an album, Clifford Brown and Max Roach at Basin Street (which, despite its name, was a studio recording), for EmArcy Records, and Rollins led the same personnel in a session for Prestige Records released as Sonny Rollins Plus Four. Those two albums are combined on this disc, presenting all the master takes recorded by the group and, thus, its "complete studio recordings." Whatever the group is called, it plays well. Brown's reputation, enhanced by his early death, is justified by his imaginative soloing; Rollins, while still young, is already an accomplished talent; and Roach is his usual self, playing up a storm. The Prestige material, occupying the last five tracks, does lean a bit more in Rollins' direction, as he contributes two original compositions, and Brown actually lays out on the final number, Irving Berlin's "Count Your Blessings," leaving the field entirely to Rollins. How long this band might have continued if tragedy hadn't struck is impossible to say. But what it left behind here makes that an inescapable speculation for jazz fans.


Born: October 30, 1930 in Wilmington, DE

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s

Clifford Brown's death in a car accident at the age of 25 was one of the great tragedies in jazz history. Already ranking with Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis as one of the top trumpeters in jazz, Brownie was still improving in 1956. Plus he was a clean liver and was not even driving; the up-and-coming pianist Richie Powell and his wife (who was driving) also perished in the crash. Clifford Brown accomplished a great deal in the short time he had. He started on trumpet when he was 15, and by 1948...
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