Tuesday, July 17, 2012

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Ray Brown

Artist:Ray Brown
Song:I Want To Be Happy
Album:Bassics: The Best Of The Ray Brown Trio 1977-2000

Though not as flashy as some of his peers, bassist Ray Brown was a very important figure in the early development of bebop. He is best known as a sideman with Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson and his own bands in the 70s and 80s. He was born Oct. 13, 1926 in Pittsburgh. He took piano lessons because his father wanted him to play like Fats Waller. Brown took up the bass in high school and his idol was Duke Ellington bassist Jimmy Blanton. After playing in local bands, Brown moved to New York in 1945. Hank Jones introduced him to Dizzy Gillespie and Brown was hired on the spot. He was in Gillespie's band from 1946-51. He married Ella Fitzgerald in 1947 and toured as her musical director. They divorced in 1952. It was while performing in the Jazz At The Philharmonic concert series that Brown first met Oscar Peterson. He was in Peterson's band from 1951-66. Brown moved to Los Angeles in 1966 to play sessions. He played on all of Frank Sinatra's TV specials. When Concord Jazz started in 1975, Brown was one of the first to record for them as part of The LA Four with Laurindo Almeida, Bud Shank and Shelly Manne. He also formed a trio with his old buddy from the Peterson band guitarist Herb Ellis and pianist Monty Alexander. I Want To Be Happy is from their 1980 album Trio. I Want To Be Happy was written by Vincent Yeomans and Irving Caesar for the 1925 musical No, No Nanette. The song has been covered by many jazz artists. Brown also recorded I Want To Be Happy on the 2002 CD Some Of My Best Friends Are...Guitarists. He left Concord for Telarc in 1993. This 2CD comp covers his Concord and Telarc recordings. Ray Brown is credited with discovering Diana Krall in the early 80s and got her a job with The Clayton-Hamilton Orchestra. Brown continued to tour and record until his death on July 2, 2002 at age 75. He played a round of golf before a show in Indianapolis. He died in his sleep during a nap before the show. Jazz fans should not overlook the legendary Ray Brown. Here's Ray Brown with Monty Alexander and Herb Ellis performing I Want To Be Happy at Jazzland in Vien, Austria Apr. 24, 1988.

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