Boyce Brown was an eccentric, a rare alto saxophonist who preferred to play freewheeling Chicago jazz, an erratic individual with some outlandish opinions and, ultimately, one of the very few monks who doubled (at least briefly) as a jazz musician! He became a professional musician when he was 17, playing with drummer Don Carter's band in Chicago. Brown picked up experience working with Benny Meroff, Wingy Manone (1933), Paul Mares (1934-1935), and Johnny's Original Playboys. Brown also led his own bands and recorded with Mares, Jimmy McPartland (1939), and Wild Bill Davison (some obscure titles in 1940). Brown was based in Chicago throughout his playing career, mostly leading his own bands throughout the '40s and early '50s. In the fall of 1953 he adopted the name "Brother Matthew" and entered a monastery, taking his vows in February 1956. His only date as a leader was cut in Apr. 1956 with Eddie Condon's band and, although he looks a bit strange in his somber outfit while holding a sax (one can only imagine what Wild Bill Davison thought!), Boyce Brown was in brilliant form for what would be his last recording. He died of a heart attack less than three years later.
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