Sunday, April 3, 2011

Blue, Booker & Byrd

© -Steven A. Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

Trumpet players are a strong lot.

They have to be to push up all that air from their abdomens through the small bore opening in the horn’s mouthpiece to make a sound on the instrument.

The dynamics of playing the trumpet are also one of the reasons that some of them sing or play another instrument for a few tunes during a set; it gives their lips [AKA “Chops”] a rest.

Following the model set by Louis Armstrong, the earliest, significant solo instrumentalist in Jazz, many trumpet players were the music’s first “Rock” stars.

In addition to “Pops,” names like Bix Beiderbecke, Harry James, Bunny Berigan, Roy Eldridge, Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis come to mind.

Although his fame was more limited due to his death at the young age of 25, Clifford Brown is another name that belongs to this august group of Jazz trumpeters.

In spite of his early death in 1956, Clifford Brown’s technical mastery and fiery style of playing captured the imagination of a host of young trumpet players who made the scene during the Hard Bop era including Blue Mitchell, Booker Little and Donald Byrd.

Thanks to the kindness of Kenny Mathieson, author of Cookin’ Hard Bop and Soul Jazz 1954 -1965 [Edinburgh: Canongate Press Ltd. 2002], the editorial staff of JazzProfiles did an earlier feature on these three trumpet players entitled Little Blue Byrd, the first part of which you can locate by going here.

We plan to repost this piece sans graphics in the next day or two on the columnar [left-hand] side of the blog. 

In the meantime, please enjoy this video tribute to Blue, Booker & Byrd.

The audio track is provided by Valery Ponomarev, another Clifford Brown-inspired trumpet player.  The tune is Lee Morgan’s Party Time on which Valery is joined by tenor saxophonist Don Braden, Martin Zenker on bass and drummer Jerome Jennings.