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The beginning of NPR's bio of bassist Ray Brown does a good job of quickly defining who he was -- and the company he kept:

Grammy Award-winning double-bassist Ray Brown was a leader in defining the modern jazz rhythm section -- in addition to being a first-rate soloist. His unique dynamic and innate sense of swing graced performances by Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Oscar Peterson and countless others.
Bebop was great music, but it could be   intellectual and  inaccessible. Brown's allmusic bio, which is on the same page as Brown's discography, hints at a player who wasn't as challenging to listeners as many who played in his era:
The huge and comfortable sound of Ray Brown's bass was a welcome feature on bop-oriented sessions for over a half-century.
Brown was married to Ella Fitzgerald from 1947 to 1952. This is from his obituary in The New York Times, which ran on July 4, 2002:
Mr. Brown won numerous critics' and listeners' popularity polls, and was regularly included among the half-dozen or so greatest of all jazz bassists, along with Oscar Pettiford, Charles Mingus, Milt Hinton, and Jimmy Blanton, whose performances with Duke Ellington he counted among his greatest influences.
Here are Five O'Clock Whistle and Things Ain't What They Used to BeKevin Mahogany's vocal on Yardbird Suite hints at rap and hip-hop styles that still were decades in the future.

Cross-Posted at THE DAILY MUSIC BREAK, the site that features good music regardless of era or genre. Visit for a free daily or weekly email of links.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Excellent, great selection of morning (0+ / 0-)

    music - thanks.

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Thu Aug 02, 2012 at 08:37:44 AM PDT

  •  Ray Brown!!! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    enhydra lutris

    One of the greatest unknown musicians of the 20th century.

    Of course, I am biased.  My Pop was a bass player (I never realized how really good he was until I started leading bands myself, and had to hire bass players), and he practically worshiped Ray.  He wold point out subtle nuances in Brown's playing and, more important, listening.

    Brown became one with the group he was working with.  His recordings with Oscar Peterson show a singularity of mind and sound that is astonishingly difficult, especially because he made it all sound so easy.  But the real masters always make it look easy.

    And he also (unlike so many of his contemporaries) played electric bass, and played it well.

    And he was a nice guy.  I only got to meet him once, but he was very cool with a young, upcoming player, and we shared stories about mutual friends during the break.

    Ray Brown was the embodiment of a great musician.

    I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

    by trumpeter on Thu Aug 02, 2012 at 08:41:05 AM PDT

    •  Great comment.... (0+ / 0-)

      ...thanks for sharing it. As I said above, he just seems like he would be nice. Funny what a big difference that makes. To me, its the Louis Armstrong versus Miles Davis thing. I want to like Armstrong's music; with Davis, it's great, but comes with an asterisk. That said, never met him of course. But all the stories you hear.

      •  I used to gig with a guy (0+ / 0-)

        who had toured with Miles.

        According to him , Miles was OK, but ... easily bored.  They would work up a set with toms difficult and interesting stuff, but then they'd go to a gig, and Miles would say "Nah - we've done that - let's play some ballads".

        Sadly, never met Miles or Pops.

        I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

        by trumpeter on Thu Aug 02, 2012 at 09:41:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Great to hear... (0+ / 0-)

          ...that he was okay in person. I am not that up on the stories about him, but the general impression was that he wasn't nice. I hope that's not so.

          If you haven't read Terry Teachout's book on Armstrong, pick it up. It's great. My site has a repost of an interview with him at CSPAN. Also, pls. check this out if you have time:

          The Daily Music Break--Armstrong

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