Clifford Brown at Birdland in New York City, 1954. Photo by Herman Leonard. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.
By Matt Silver
In 1957, Benny Golson wrote perhaps the most beautiful requiem in the jazz canon. Earnest and heart-wrenching “I Remember Clifford” is a bona fide standard, inspiring versions by Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Lee Morgan, Sonny Rollins, Quincy Jones, and nearly every jazz instrumentalist of consequence, including Golson himself.
But it begs the question: Do we follow the lead of Benny’s lament and do enough to remember Clifford ourselves? This year, we do. Here at KSDS, we aim to honor jazz’s great innovators, past and present. Clifford Brown, who tragically died four months shy of his 26th birthday in June 1956, is indisputably one of them.