Clifford Brown All Stars

Clifford Brown All Stars

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Clifford Brown All Stars was released in 1956, not long after Brown was killed in a car accident on the Pennsylvania Turnpike on the way to a gig at the Blue Note in Chicago. The album consists of two tracks recorded in Los Angeles in August 1954 (two more from those sessions, "Coronado" and "You Go to My Head," were released in 1955 under the title Best Coast Jazz), lengthy versions of the standards "Caravan" and "Autumn In New York." The band, besides trumpeter Brown and his right-hand man, drummer Max Roach, includes altos Herb Geller and Joe Maini, tenor Walter Benton, pianist Kenny Drew, and bassist Curtis Counce. While nowhere close to bottom-of-the-barrel scrapings, these are clearly inferior performances to those released on the previous album. While "Caravan" features some impressively fleet soloing by Brown, it also features that rarity, a clumsy and not terribly interesting Max Roach drum solo, and one that goes on at least twice as long as it should, to boot. The mellow 21-minute take on "Autumn in New York" fares much better; Brown and company take it at a slightly faster pace than is usual for this ballad, and that tiny hint of urgency gooses the performance admirably. Of all the post-bop trumpeters, only Miles Davis had a sweeter, more lyrical ballad tone than Brown, and Brown's solos on this track approach Davis' mastery of the form. Unfortunately, Maini's unimaginative alto solo isn't up to the same standards, though Geller's closing turn ends things on a stronger note. [The Japanese CD reissue of Clifford Brown All Stars, packaged in a cardboard replica of the original sleeve, adds one bonus track, "Caravan (The Boss Man)," a magnificent three-minute single version of the Duke Ellington/Juan Tizol tune with a different but equally impressive Brown solo.]

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