The RCA label was proud to have Tom Brown as one of its staff engineers for a period of more than three decades. Jazz fans will send him a bouquet for recording alto saxophonist and bandleader Art Pepper live at the Village Vanguard; these recordings are some of the finest in the live jazz canon, at least in terms of recording quality. He deserves another bouquet from the same crowd for putting up with the insanely demanding drummer boy wonder Buddy Rich when that bandleader, riding high with a trendy big band, decided to cut a live recording and nearly cut the engineers' throats in the process. The weirdest production Brown was a part of has got to be Carla Bley's master opus Escalator Over the Hill, four years in the making. This record's hick vocal duets by Charlie Haden and Linda Ronstadt are the contextual link to An Ozark Mountain Christmas, an example of a Brown assignment during more recent years. It seems to represent a trend, as in the ongoing tally Brown seems to have done more country & western productions than any other genre. Of course, this would depend on whether Elvis Presley, one of RCA's biggest artists, counted as country or rock & roll. Brown always thought of Presley as country, and he should have the last word on any argument in his own biography.
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