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Ray Brown

Discussion in 'Bassists [DB]' started by brianh, Oct 7, 2005.

  1. brianh


    Aug 19, 2005
    Endorsing: Epifani Amplification
    Hi guys,
    I am about to do a formal transcription project on Ray Brown, consisting of about 3-6 solos. I've got a ton of records from over the years and I'm trying select the best solos.

    Can anyone give some recomendations on what they consider to be his best work?

  2. West Side Story w/Oscar Peterson
  3. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    The solo over HOW HIGH THE MOON from the Live at (JazzHeimer's Moment) Royal Garden? with the Oscar Peterson Trio. I've always been partial to the stuff on WAY OUT WEST; you should prolly also check out the solo/cello record THIS IS RAY BROWN (I think? I'll check tonight).
  4. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    "Best Work" is a bit subjective, but the We Get Request Album is the one pushed by his followers the most as a must transcribe project. My teacher had me do it, John Clayton mentioned it once and I read an interview with Christian McBride once where he said his favorite Ray Brown solo was "You Look Good to Me" from that same album. (I may be misquoting him, but that was at least the spirit of what he said)

    Also the "This One's For Blanton" album is a great transcription project. It's just him and Duke Ellington, so it's very easy to hear and you can tell that they are really allowing themselves to improvise. I just spun it up again last night for the first time in a long time.

    I've been off transcribing other players, who I've come to realize that I don't like their solos all that much as a rule, so I'm headed back to look for Ray Brown solos again.

    Good luck with your project. Kindred souls all over the globe are probably transcribing the same things. It's good stuff.

  5. Michael Glynn

    Michael Glynn

    Feb 25, 2004
    Solo For Unaccompanied Bass from the album "Bass Hit!"

    I also really like his stuff on the album "Rockin' In Rhythm" with Hank Jones and Jimmie Smith (the drummer). He has great solos on the title track and on Your Feet's Too Big.
  6. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    I love his solo on "The Days of Wine and Roses." The CD is Black Orpheus. The entire CD is great!
  7. Pcocobass


    Jun 16, 2005
    New York
    Check out Ray's solo on Kadota's Blues from the Oscar Peterson album "The Sound of the Trio." It's great transcription material because Ray walks for a while and then takes a long (nine choruses, I think) solo. He does all of his hip stuff in the solo.
  8. westland


    Oct 8, 2004
    Hong Kong
    Check out Bam, Bam, Bam too (w/ Gene Harris)
  9. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Definitely one from the OP Trio's version of Happy Go Local (AKA Night Train) from Night Train (original take, not the alternate.) *Great* solo.
  10. Brent Nussey

    Brent Nussey

    Jun 27, 2001
    Tokyo, Japan
    Well, lots of good replies here. The How High the Moon solo is fabulous, really regarded as a classic. This Is Ray Brown doesn't have any cello on it, but some fantastic bass playing, and you can hear how Ray plays the beat differently than he sounds with the OP Trio (although Oscar plays some organ on this record). If you decide to try something from This One's for Blanton, go with one of the re-creations of the Blanton tunes and compare it with the original. The "Fragmented Suite for Piano and Bass" can be safely ignored, IMHO. I think The Sound of the Trio is the best of the records recorded live at the London House (the Trio, Something Warm, Put on a Happy Face, etc all come from the same engagement), and Kadota's Blues is a great choice. The stuff from We Get Requests is really interesting, because if you compare it with everything that came before, you can see how metal strings, a smaller bass, and somewhat improved recording technology changed Ray's playing.

    But for my money, the cream of the Ray Brown catalog is on records called the Poll Winners records. From 1957-1960, Ray Brown, Shelley Manne and Barney Kessel each won the downbeat, Metronome and Playboy reader's polls on their respective instruments, so they made a record each year to commemorate (market?) that. I don't know if they're all available on CD or not. It's very hard to recommend a single track over the others, but I think maybe Mack the Knife from Poll Winners Three. The solo is great, but I love the bass line so much on this track. Simple but effective, and demonstrates a lot of his signature style. Anyway, if that one's out of print, try It Could Happen to You from The Poll Winners, which is definitely available on CD.
  11. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    I musta been thinking of JAZZ CELLO, my bad.
  12. I agree with ALL the above however,I think a couple of other tracks are worth a mention:-
    from "The Red Hot Ray Brown Trio "1987.track 2 . "MEDITATION" also for just a good feel with beautiful lines track 5 :- "That's All".

    Then skip over to "Soular Energy"1985. "Teach Me Tonight"and "Take the A Train"

    There's at least a million more but these are worth a special mention in my book! :)
  13. 33degrees


    Jun 4, 2005
    yes i aggree with 'days & wine and roses', its a great solo!
  14. Pcocobass


    Jun 16, 2005
    New York
    Hey Brent,

    I totally forgot about those records! Have you heard "Cannonball Adderly and the Poll Winners"? It's got Ray, Wes Montgomery, and I can't remember who else right now. But that record is killin'! Ray takes such a nasty solo on "Au Privave" and his tone is great, as usual.

    From reading all the posts in this thread, I've realized something: I don't think you'll find ANY Ray solo that's not transcription material! They're all that good!
  15. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Have you heard him with Charlie Parker, Coleman Hawkins, Hank Jones, and Buddy Rich? Incredible stuff! It's on the "Charlie Parker Complete: Greatest Verve Bop Quintets" CD. There's also a few tracks by "Charlie Parker and His Orchestra" -- with Red Rodney, John Lewis, Ray Brown, and Kenny Clarke.
  16. jazzbass72


    Jun 26, 2003
    New York, NY
    I believe the most amazing solo I've ever heard from Ray Brown is on this obscure late 70's Tal Farlow recording called "A sign of the times", trio with Ray and Hank Jones. The track is "Stompin' at the Savoy", and the CD is available on Concord Records. It must be one of the best recordings of Ray's bass, pure mic delight (no direct sound). Check it out!

    Of course, "Sometimes I am happy" from the London House sessions is a classic too.

  17. Brent Nussey

    Brent Nussey

    Jun 27, 2001
    Tokyo, Japan
    Yeah, it's great too. Cannon, Wes, Ray, Victor Feldman and Louis Hayes.

    As you said, everything is transcription-worthy. Considering that, Brian, if you're doing a "formal transcription project," why not have a theme, and include a little analysis? For example, you could take a theme of how Ray's playing developed over the years. You could start with one of the early Dizzy Gillespie or Bud Powell tracks, where he doesn't even quite sound like what we think of as Ray Brown today. Then something with the early (guitar) OP trio, and/or something with Ed Thigpen. Maybe then a track from We Get Requests (different bass and strings). Then something from the "Hollywood period," something from the Duo records with Jimmy Rowles, maybe. Then finally, one or 2 from the late periods, 1980ish-1990 (when he first returned to touring) and 1990-2002 (when he started working with all the young players- OK Monty and Jeff Hamilton were young, too, but you know what I mean). Then you could offer some kind of impression or explanation of how his thing evolved over time.

    Another option might be showing the context of different groups. Something with OP, something with a pianoless trio (Way Out West), Something with a very different kind of pianist (Junior Mance and his Swinging piano), something fronting a big band, maybe something from the cello record even. Lots of options. If you really wanted to be hip, maybe you could include some of the improvised cues he did for Mission Impossible. Talk about what stayed the same and what changed in each situation. This would give a much better picture of Ray Brown than just his 6 "best" solos.
  18. Brent Nussey

    Brent Nussey

    Jun 27, 2001
    Tokyo, Japan
    Thanks for the tip, I'll look for this.

  19. David Wiener

    David Wiener Banned

    Sep 30, 2005
    Huntington, NY
    Try to get a copy of the Oscar Peterson 's allbum "Canadiana Suite." In my opinion this is the best album that the trio ever did. The song writing is fabulous too. It was recorded by Limelight and it is now available on CD. Ray's solos on this album are gold! Best regards, Dave Wiener
  20. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    I just got "We Get Requests" a few days ago (1.08GB of Oscar Peterson music now :D) and IMO, the most standout part of his playing this album is his bowing. There's no doubt that this is indeed a "must transcribe" project for the future -- his walking, soloing, and bossa playing are truly amazing (even better than Night Train, previously my favourite OP record) but the sound he got with the bow is astonishing. It doesn't sound like a bowed DB at all, but rather like a richly coloured sax! Any idea how he did this? Amazing, amazing sound.