Clifford Brown/Max Roach Quintet - Clifford Brown and Max Roach

Universal Classics and Jazz

Release date: 1954

Remastered re-release date: February 19th, 2000

Clifford Brown and Max Roach cover


Clifford Brown (trumpet)
Harold Land (tenor saxophone)
Richie Powell (piano)
George Morrow (bass)
Max Roach (drums)


1 Delilah ; 2 Parisian Thoroughfare; 3 The Blues Walk; 4 Daahoud; 5 Joy Spring; 6 Jordu; 7 What Am I Here For; plus alternate takes of Tracks 3, 4 and 5.


"Clifford Brown and Max Roach" was the first recording of a quintet that changed jazz. It was tragically short lived; Clifford Brown and pianist Richie Powell (Bud's brother) were to die in the same car crash within two years of the album's release, an event that affected Max Roach for years to come.

The music is based in bop but has outgrown its origins to such an extent that it is clearly one of the first great examples of hard bop. Clifford Brown is superb on trumpet, building clear, precise melody lines with such authority and control for a mere 24 year old. As many have observed, to get from Louis Armstrong to modern trumpeters, in addition to Miles Davis, Fats Navarro and Lee Morgan, you have to give very serious consideration to Clifford Brown. His solos, for example on Duke Jordan's "Jordu" or on the three Clifford Brown originals, "Daahoud", "The Blues Walk" and "Joy Spring", now jazz standards, are beautifully controlled yet expressive.

Harold Land, much overlooked, plays fluid, sinuous saxophone and shares real understanding with Clifford Brown in the many unison passages before breaking out into inventive and innovative solos. Richie Powell and George Morrow on piano and bass add to the modern, open approach inspired by Max Roach's fine drumming.

Before forming this quintet with Clifford Brown, Max Roach had already established a lasting place in the history of the development of jazz, playing drums for Coleman Hawkins and Dizzy Gillespie before appearing on nearly all of Charlie Parker's classic bebop recordings and on Miles Davis's "Birth of the Cool". He transformed jazz drumming, pioneering an open style with emphasis away from heavy use of bass drum towards more subtle development of cross rhythms on ride cymbal, high hat and snare rim. His prodigious technique virtually defined modern jazz drumming. This is clearly the case on "What Am I Here For?", the Duke Ellington composition, which also highlights how tight the ensemble playing is.

"These Foolish Things", the 1930s show tune by Jack Strachey and Harold Link, showcases the bass playing of George Morrow, using bass as a lead instrument, a further innovation.

"Parisian Thoroughfare", the Bud Powell composition, is perhaps the highlight, starting and finishing with a coy impromptu imitation of Parisian traffic sounds, it opens out into a beautifully balanced and relaxed expression of the confidence and optimism of the mid 'fifties.

In their two years together, the band toured extensively, heading East from its West Coast origins, taking New York, Max Roach's adopted home town since the age of four, by storm. On that journey, the music, as summed up by the final album "At Basin Street", became faster and more uncompromising, losing much of the freshness of this first album. It was two years in which Clifford Brown emerged as an undisputed jazz great and the Max Roach-Clifford Brown quintet set a standard for tight improvised jazz that has seldom been surpassed.

Max Roach died aged 83 on August 16th 2007.

Max Roach obituaries:

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Guardian
The Independent

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