Lee Morgan: I Remember Clifford

The heartbreaking death of Clifford Brown devastated the jazz community in 1956. Admired not only for his extraordinary trumpeting but also for his clean-living gentlemanliness, if there was ever a musician who deserved to be honored with an elegy this beautiful, it was Brownie. Benny Golson tapped 18-year-old Philadelphian trumpet sensation Lee Morgan to unveil his composition, passing the torch from the great master to one of his most gifted disciples.

No frills are necessary with Golson’s immaculate melody and the normally hurried and excitable young Morgan adheres closely to it, expressive and melancholic while recalling his mentor with a velvety sound and warm vibrato. Though his improvisation exudes a lighter, bouncier spirit, it is infused with a loving reverence, capturing both the tender and playful sides of the young trumpeter’s playing. Golson has said, “I wanted to create a melody that the public would remember and associate it with [Brown].” He did just that; with the help of Morgan, “I Remember Clifford” remains one of the most touching and enduring ballads in the annals of jazz.

July 10, 2009 · 0 comments

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Shea Breaux Wells: Oh Yes, I Remember Clifford

If you happen to frequent the addictive AccuJazz.com website and listen to its Vocal Jazz channel, you may occasionally hear a track from Shea Breaux Wells' self-released A Blind Date CD, and wonder why you haven't heard of her before. For every Diana Krall, Cassandra Wilson, or Diane Reeves, there are countless other relatively obscure female (and male) jazz singers honing their skills, working hard, and hoping for a break--lucky or otherwise--in the very competitive, limited opportunity field of jazz. Wells' CD came about when a number of top-flight jazz musicians were in Healdsburg, CA, for its annual jazz festival in June 2007, and the event's producer suggested to local resident Wells that she utilize their readily available talents for her second recording session.

The selection "Oh Yes, I Remember Clifford" is just one of many that show off Wells' fresh and mature vocal stylings, as well as her rapport with a noticeably inspired ad hoc "backup" group (formidable saxophonist Craig Handy sat this one out). Of course, this is Benny Golson's "I Remember Clifford," but with Jon Hendricks' lyrics added--hence the slight title change for copyright/royalty reasons. Wells' slightly throaty, resonant vocal quality is appropriate and touchingly effective for her treatment of Hendricks' eulogy to Clifford Brown. Cables' chordal piano and McBee's resounding bass lines offer a strong foundation for both the singer and David Weiss's Brownie-indebted, fluidly melodic trumpet solo. The pianist's profound improvisation is but one of many examples of how well he has been playing this decade. Wells' reiteration of the theme sustains her emotionally absorbed, warm approach. The piece is capped by moving departing assertions from the enviable team of Cables, McBee, and Billy Hart.

June 29, 2009 · 0 comments

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Lee Morgan: I Remember Clifford

Nine months after Clifford Brown's accidental death, composer Benny Golson unveiled this lovely, and loving, requiem for the late trumpeter, venerated as much for the content of his character as for his consummate musicianship. "I Remember Clifford" would've become a jazz standard strictly on its own merits, whatever its title. But being dedicated to the beloved Brownie ensured its instant acceptance by Clifford's peers and fans alike. Here, 18-year-old trumpet phenom Lee Morgan, a Brownie disciple but by no means imitator, brings us as close as we'll ever get to hearing Clifford himself play this reverent piece. A haunting, heartfelt tribute.

December 18, 2007 · 0 comments

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