Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Clifford Brown in California - The 1954 Sessions



© James A. Harrod, Copyright Protected; All Rights Reserved

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Clifford Brown arrived in California in the spring of 1954. He came west at the invitation of Max Roach who had recently completed a six month tour of duty with Howard Rumsey’s Lighthouse All Stars replacing Shelly Manne in the drum chair. Roach and Brown shared a two bedroom apartment where they began the collaboration that became one of the most talked about quintets to emerge in jazz in 1954. 

The first edition of the quintet with Sonny Stitt on tenor opened at the Californian Club in April of 1954 following the engagement of a Jack Costanzo group that included Jerry Wiggins, Jackie Mills, Joe Comfort, Bill Holman, Herbie Steward, and Rolf Ericson. Stitt’s tenure with the first quintet was brief. 

1759 West Martin Luther King Boulevard today.

The Californian Club was located at 1759 West Santa Barbara Avenue, renamed as Martin Luther King Boulevard in 1982. Although the club catered to Black audiences primarily, the part owner, Art Wong, made publicity when he brought a civil suit against Bill Hutton, an ex-Californian bartender, who claimed he was discriminated against regarding a shortage in vacation pay compared to other employees. The ensuing fist fight resulted in the law suit, and a boycott of the Californian by Black newspapers at the time. The lack of press coverage via ads has hindered research of the jazz musicians appearing at the club in the early fifties.

Various accounts attribute Sonny Stitt’s brief time with the Max Roach/Clifford Brown Quintet to his not being a team player, not working as an ensemble member, trying to outmuscle other musicians on the bandstand. A column in the April 15, 1954, edition of the California Eagle urged readers looking for “something cool” to check out Sonny Stitt’s modern sounds at the Californian.

The intimation that the group was Stitt’s could not have been well received by Max Roach if he saw the column. One also has to question the mention of Clarence Robinson and no mention of Clifford Brown.

Mark Weber’s “Bobby Bradford Timeline - Work-in-progress” notes the following:

— Max Roach-Clifford Brown Quintet forms in Los Angeles. They have extended gig at California Club (Santa Barbara & Western Avenue) and their rhythm section plays the Monday Night Jam Sessions, “I think it was a night off for Clifford, or something, but it would only be Max and Bledsoe and I think Carl Perkins,” where Bobby Bradford, Eric Dolphy, Walter Benton, Teddy Edwards, Don Cherry, sit in — some nights Wardell Gray leads the jam session — It was during these jam sessions that Bobby Bradford shared the stage with Clifford Brown, and had a chance to talk with him, merely about things that trumpet players talk about among themselves, “He was very cordial” — He remembers the first time he caught Clifford at this club, he was standing next to Rolf Ericson, who was so flushed with disbelief at what he was hearing, and what a high level this young newcomer on the trumpet scene had achieved, that his face turned red — (It was also at the California Club where Bobby Bradford first heard Bud Powell play live) — SO, I asked about the Sunday afternoon jam sessions at Zardi’s and Bobby Bradford confirmed that yes, Clifford Brown was a participant, along with Walter Benton, Kenny Drew, Dolphy — I asked if Curtis Counce was at these jam sessions, and he says he mostly felt a “bad vibe” off of Counce, “He was one of the big anti-Coleman guys around then, actively against anything Ornette was doing” –[telcon w/Bobby Bradford 11jan13] — Even though there is no present documentation of Clifford Brown-Max Roach playing Zardi’s, Bobby is certain of the actuality of this —

Sonny Stitt was no longer with the quintet when Gene Norman made arrangements to record the group on April 28, 1954. The February 10, 1954, issue of Down Beat magazine included a column announcing that Gene Norman planned to enter the record business.

The Los Angeles Daily Mirror carried ads for the Californian in May of 1954. 

Gene Norman executed a contract with Max Roach to record the quintet at the Californian Club on April 28, 1954. The contract noted that the first recording session would take place from 9:00 to 12:00 P.M. to be followed by a second session from midnight to 2:00 A.M. The quintet included Teddy Edwards on tenor, George Bledsoe on bass, Carl Perkins on piano along with Clifford Brown on trumpet and Max Roach noted as leader on drums. The musicians were paid for the sessions on April 30, 1954. The recording was never released by Norman, but the April date found its way into the discography literature as being the Pasadena Civic Auditorium recording issued by Gene Norman on his GNP label. 

Florence Cadrez’s “Mostly ‘Bout Musicians” column in the May 20, 1954, edition of the Los Angeles Sentinel noted that the Max Roach group was continuing its engagement at the Californian Club. The California Eagle for the same date carried an ad for the Californian Club stating that a Buddy Collette combo was now in residence. Neither newspaper was a daily, and chances are that the Brown/Roach quintet were no longer engaged at the club.

Ten days later the Max Roach/Clifford Brown Quintet was featured at a concert at the Sartu Theater in Los Angeles that was sponsored jointly by Dick Bock’s Pacific Jazz label and Ray Avery’s Rare Records. Teddy Edwards was still with the quintet when they opened at the Tiffany Club in July and remained with the group for their concert at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium sponsored by Gene Norman on July 13, 1954.

This initial contact between Dick Bock and Clifford Brown during the Sartu concert might have been where Bock expressed his desire to record Brown for his Pacific Jazz label.

Art Pepper and Jack Montrose opened at the Tiffany Club in mid June 1954. Jack Tucker instituted a two group policy the first of July when he booked the Roach/Brown quintet to alternate sets with the Pepper/Montrose quintet.

Gene Norman executed a contract with Max Roach to authorize the recording of the concert and release on a phonograph recording on his new GNP label. The master log at AFM Local No. 47 shows that the contract was entered on July 14, 1954, unfortunately copies of the contract are missing from the AFM files.

The Max Roach/Clifford Brown Quintet was featured at a Gene Norman “Modern Jazz” concert at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium on Tuesday, July 13, 1954. Gene Norman recorded that concert and released the first commercial recording of the Clifford Brown/Max Roach Quintet on a ten inch LP, GNP Vol. 5. Max Roach introduces members of the quintet as he plays brushes and members join in and play their instrument as they are introduced: George Bledsoe on bass, Carl Perkins on piano, Teddy Edwards on tenor saxophone, and Clifford Brown on trumpet. 

If Teddy Edwards remained with the quintet following the recording session at the California Club on April 28, it seems possible that he continued through May with the concert at the Sartu Theater on the 30th. His appearance at the Pasadena concert also suggests that he remained with the quintet through June and the first two weeks of July at the Tiffany Club engagement.

Clifford Brown and Emma LaRue Anderson celebrated their marriage three times. The first ceremony on June 26, 1954, was private. The second ceremony and the one registered on legal documents occurred on July 16, 1954, and a reception was held at the Tiffany Club where the Art Pepper/Jack Montrose Quintet had been replaced a few days earlier by the Red Norvo Trio with Tal Farlow and Red Mitchell. Photos of the reception reveal that Richie Powell, Harold Land, and George Morrow were in attendance and most likely new members of the quintet that continued the Tiffany Club engagement alternating sets with the Red Norvo Trio through the balance of July.

Clifford Brown and Max Roach recorded their quintet with Richie Powell, George Morrow, and Harold Land, at Capitol Studios on Melrose for Mercury’s new jazz imprint, EmArcy Records, on four dates in August, the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 6th. Two of Clifford Brown’s original compositions were recorded during these sessions, “Daahoud” and “Joy Spring” (Clifford’s nickname for LaRue). The 10 inch EmArcy LP, MG 26043, featured three other tunes, “Delilah,” “Parisian Thoroughfare,” and “Jordu.”

Bob Shad, the A&R head at EmArcy, tapped Clifford Brown and Max Roach for some additional sessions at Capitol that featured Dinah Washington and various groups of Los Angeles musicians including Clark Terry, Maynard Ferguson, Herb Geller, Joe Maini, Harold Land, Walter Benton, Kenny Drew, Richie Powell, Junior Mance, George Morrow, Curtis Counce, and Keter Betts. These sessions produced several LPs:

The AFM contracts as noted on the master log at AFM reveal both Clifford Brown and Max Roach as leaders on these various sessions:

The Clifford Brown/Max Roach 1954 sessions in California for Bob Shad at EmArcy were reissued on compact disc as part of the total recordings of Clifford on EmArcy in 1989 entitled, BROWNIE - THE COMPLETE EmArcy RECORDINGS OF CLIFFORD BROWN.

These recordings were reissued again in 2013 as The Complete EmArcy Recordings of Clifford Brown. Six of the CDs in the 10 CD box set cover the California sessions.

Jack Montrose recalled the recording sessions with Clifford Brown for Pacific Jazz in an interview for Cadence magazine in 1989.

CADENCE: You mentioned the Clifford Brown date (1954), were you aware at that time of the importance and really what a fine trumpet player Clifford Brown was?

JACK MONTROSE: No. I'm dumb. I liked him, and I was working...at that time we made that album there was a club in Los Angeles on West 8th Street called Tiffany Club and Art Pepper and I were working there with a quintet and Clifford Brown and Max Roach were working there with their group, two jazz bands. During that gig when I was hearing Clifford every night we did that album, Dick Bock wanted to do that album and then there was some kind of trouble over it. Clifford Brown was under contract with another label, EmArcy, and somehow he agreed to do this album for Dick Bock who contracted me to write it. During that time I was listening to Clifford play every night and I was at his house every day, going over these tunes of his. So I had a good dose, but I never realized how great a player Clifford was.

CADENCE: Were there things you took into special consideration in writing it or would you have written it basically the same way for any trumpet player?

JACK MONTROSE: No, I was listening to Clifford and wrote...l love to have a player in mind when I'm writing something, I don't always have that opportunity, but I love it, when it presents itself like that. And I had Clifford's sound in my head, and I also wrote the drum parts on that date for Max Roach, who was supposed to do it. Somehow I think Dick Bock wouldn't pay him what he wanted to do the date. Anyway, he didn't do the date, Shelly did it.  But the drum parts I wrote for Max Roach 'cause I thought Max Roach was going to do it. No, I didn't realize what a great player Clifford was. I knew he was a good player, but I didn't know how good.

CADENCE: How much input did he put in on those things? Did he change it?

JACK MONTROSE: No, he never did.  Once I brought the music to the date, nothing was changed, that's the way they went down. He did several tunes, several original tunes, "Daahoud" and  another tune that everybody still plays, “Joy Spring.”

The first session was at Capitol Records studios on Melrose, August 12, 1954.

The next concert appearance of the Clifford Brown/Max Roach Quintet was at the Shrine Auditorium for Irving Granz and his "Jazz à la Carte" program on August 20, 1954. Granz launched his concert series on May 11, 1954, at the Embassy Auditorium. His line up for that initial concert included the Dave Brubeck Quartet (Paul Desmond, Bob Bates, Joe Dodge), Shelly Manne, Anita O'Day, Shorty Rogers, Jimmy Giuffre, Marty Paich, Barney Kessel, Curtis Counce, Wardell Gray, Zoot Sims, Jackie Mills, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Arnold Ross, Joe Comfort, and Steve White in an All American All Stars billing. An ad for the concert in the California Eagle goofed when they listed the presenter as Norman Granz.

Irving Granz took his "Jazz à la Carte" program to San Diego's Russ Auditorium on August 21, 1954. The final ad for the concert dropped one of the "f's" in Clifford's name due to space limitations in the font size, but previous ads spelled his name correctly.

Gene Norman booked the Clifford Brown/Max Roach Quintet again on August 31, 1954, for another "Modern Jazz" concert at the Shrine Auditorium. Norman also recorded this concert and the Roach/Brown portion was released on another 10 inch LP, GNP Vol. 7.

Three days later on September 3, 1954, the Clifford Brown/Max Roach Quintet was on the concert stage again, this time at the Embassy Auditorium in a concert sponsored by the Beta Sigma Tau fraternity.

Clifford Brown completed his obligation to Dick Bock on September 8, 1954, for the final recording session with charts arranged by Jack Montrose. Carson Smith replaced Joe Mondragon with the balance of the ensemble remaining the same as the session in August.

Tracks from the session were released initially on a 78 RPM single, PJ 627. Pacific jazz catalogues from the period also list a 45 rpm single release with the same tracks, "Tiny Capers" and "Gone With the Wind," but copies of this release have not been verified.

Pacific Jazz also released a 45 EP with tracks from the session, EP4-27.

The 10 inch LP release of the Clifford Brown Ensemble featuring Zoot Sims, PJLP-19, was one of the last releases by Pacific Jazz in their 10 inch LP series before adopting the new 12 inch LP format.

An alternate take of "Tiny Capers" was issued on JWC 500, jazz west coast - AN ANTHOLOGY OF CALIFORNIA MUSIC, one of Dick Bock's first releases in the 12 inch LP format, to promote the publication of Jazz West Coast, William Claxton's first published portfolio of his jazz photography. The album was also released as a set of three extended play 45s in a hinged box.

Dick Bock reissued five of the tunes from PJLP-19 on a 12 inch LP that highlighted the arranging talent of Jack Montrose. One side was devoted to charts he arranged for a Bob Gordon 10 inch LP, PJLP-12, Meet Mr. Gordon, with the other side featuring the Clifford Brown Ensemble tracks.

The Clifford Brown Ensemble sessions continued to be available in the Pacific Jazz catalogue and were reissued as PJ-3 when Bock initiated a new Pacific Jazz imprint, as ST-20139 when Liberty acquired the line (faux stereo), and as LN-10126 when United Artists reissued select items from the catalogue.

The first compact disc reissue of the Clifford Brown Ensemble on EMI-MANHATTAN CDP 7 46850 2 in 1988 combined the original seven tracks from PLJP-19 plus the alternate version of "Tiny Capers" from the JWC anthology.

The version of "Gone with the Wind" on PJ-627 and EP4-27 was also an alternate take that was included in the next compact disc reissue of these sessions IN 2001 on Pacific Jazz RVG Edition - CLIFFORD BROWN - JAZZ IMMORTAL - 7243 5 32142 2 78.

Robert Gordon's Jazz West Coast, Quartet Books, London, 1986, reviewed the severe editing of the Gene Norman Presents LPs on page 108, a portion of which is reproduced below:

Gene Norman reissued the sessions on compact disc in 1989.

Teddy Edwards possessed a tape of the Pasadena Civic concert that he shared with Fresh Sound Records for the 2005 reissue on FSR-CD 377. The introductions by Max Roach are preserved and many of the edited portions are restored in this compact disc reissue.

The above photo (unauthorized) used for the Fresh Sound release (uncredited) is by Ray Avery. It was taken at the Sartu Concert on May 30, 1954. Ray Avery preferred the exposure that included a fuller profile of Max Roach, shown above with the Sartu concert announcement and program.

The screen shot below (from my iTunes library) illustrates the timing differences between the GNP CD reissue and FSR-CD 377.

The Best of Max Roach and Clifford Brown - 50:51
The Historic California Concerts 1954 - 57:27

The Gene Norman Presents, EmArcy, and Pacific Jazz sesssions formed an integral part of Clifford Brown's legacy, milestones established in California in 1954.

The Ray Avery and Ross Burdick photos that greatly enhance this presentation have been provided courtesy of the Ray Avery Estate and the Ross Burdick Collection.  The author would like to extend a most heartfelt thanks to Cynthia Sesso, Licensing Administrator of the Ray Avery Photo Archives and the Ross Burdick Collection.  Please note that these photos remain the property of the Ray Avery Estate and the Ross Burdick Estate and are used here with permission.  Any inquiries regarding their use, commercial or otherwise, should be directed to:  Cynthia Sesso at CTSIMAGES.


  1. Fantastic research, Mr, Harrod...thanks! Al Hood

  2. Thanks for this fascinating blog.

  3. What was Jane Fielding doing with Dina and Clifford?

  4. From my Jazz;West book:

    The other jazz club that Jane frequented was the Tiffany at 3260 West 8th Street. The featured combo in mid-June of 1954 was a quintet led by Art Pepper and Jack Montrose. In July the Max Roach / Clifford Brown Quintet was also featured with the two quintets alternating sets. Jane introduced herself to the musicians and shared that she was a vocalist. This led to an invitation to attend a recording session for Dinah Washington the next month.
    Bob Shad, the A&R head of Mercury, organized a series of recording sessions to feature vocalist Dinah Washington. All were held on August 14, 1954, before an invited live audience. The AFM contracts noted three leaders: Clifford Brown, Herb Geller, and Max Roach. The same musicians were included on all three contracts: Clark Terry, Clifford Brown, Maynard Ferguson (trumpets); Herb Geller, Harold Land (saxes); Junior Mance, Richie Powell (piano); Keter Betts, George Morrow (bass); and Max Roach (drums); but Shad arranged various combinations of musicians to accompany Washington with the only regular working group the Max Roach / Clifford Brown Quintet. Jane was thrilled to meet one of her idols and experience the mechanics of a recording session.

    Thanks for taking a look. I will be killing this google site shortly, suggest that you follow my work at:

    jazzresearch.com where I have moved all of my research.