Doing this album has been such a joy and close to my heart. Here is the story behind it . It should be released by Christmas on iTunes and other places.
About this album : It was 1961 and I was 13 years old. I was about to perform on my first major jazz gig guesting at the Atlantic City jazz Festival on the bill with Dinah Washington , Gerry Mulligan , Oscar Peterson and Art Blakey. I remember vividly like yesterday looking out from the wings of that stage waiting to go on mesmerized seeing Dinah Washington singing. During this same time I was introduced to the Clifford Brown / Neil Hefti string album by my brother Bob which changed my musical life. Clifford was my first major influence on trumpet after Louis Armstrong and ironically he did classic recordings with Dinah Washington so everything seem to be melding together stylistically for me at this point in my life. I wore out the LP of “Clifford with Strings” listening to it every night to go to sleep before school the next day. He had such warmth in his sound something he was known for as Dinah Washington’s lyrics state so beautifully in “I remember Clifford”. Also he had wonderful way of articulating on the trumpet playful at times. Clifford like Charlie Parker earlier had incredible technique but similarly as on Charlie Parker’s historic string album prior showed so such maturity , economy and beauty with his simple interpretations of the melody. I want to thank my brother Bob for all his input and help in doing this album and Irv Kratka for giving me the opportunity to fulfill a dream with my interpretations of these beautiful Neil Hefti arrangements in this tribute to Clifford Brown. There is one other point not talked about much. Clifford was a clean cut sweet family man who didn’t use drugs and that came through his music which was changing the perception of the jazz musician of the day. The last song on this album below is not from the original string album and is Benny Golson’s “I remember Clifford” which I combined with Dinah Washington’s 1957 recording shortly after his death. It’s very emotional for me coming full circle from that 13 year old boy in the wings watching Dinah to 52 years later doing this album and I hope you enjoy as much as I did. Thank you Clifford for showing me the way and all you gave to us in such a short time and you are not forgotten.
Closing Track : “I Remember Clifford”