J.T. Brown

His braying tenor sax tone earned J.T. Brown the dubious distinction of being told his horn sounded like a "nanny goat." That didn't stop the likes of Elmore James from hiring Brown for some of his most important sessions for Meteor and Modern, though; Brown's style was truly distinctive.

Mississippi-born John T. Brown was a member of the Rabbit Foot Minstrels down south before arriving in the Windy City. By 1945, Brown was recording behind pianist Roosevelt Sykes and singer St. Louis Jimmy Oden, later backing Eddie Boyd and Washboard Sam for RCA Victor. He debuted on wax as a bandleader in 1950 on the Harlem label, subsequently cutting sessions in 1951 and 1952 for Chicago's United logo as well as JOB. Brown's sideman credentials included wailing riffs beside slide guitarist Elmore James and pianist Little Johnny Jones for the Bihari brothers' Meteor and Flair logos in 1952 and 1953. Meteor issued a couple of singles under Brown's own name (well, sort of) during the same timeframe: "Round House Boogie"/"Kickin' the Blues Around" was credited to the Bep Brown Orcehestra, while "Sax-ony Boogie" was listed as by Saxman Brown and its flip, the vocal "Dumb Woman Blues," as by J.T. (Big Boy) Brown! All four are available on Flair's four-disc James box set, incidentally.

After a final 1956 date for United that laid unissued at the time, Brown's studio activities were limited to sideman roles. In January of 1969, he was part of Fleetwood Mac's Blues Jam at Chess album, even singing a tune for the project, but he died before the close of that year. ~ Bill Dahl

  • BORN
    April 2, 1918

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