What's Hot With Jazz Guitar: Cliff Brown

by Doc Dosco

This week we feature LA jazz guitarist Cliff Brown. I just checked out the new CD 'In The Meantime' by Cliff Brown. Very impressive. Cliff has great chops and a has a CD full of very cool tracks collected from some years back. The fact that he is a lefty, but he plays the guitar upside down is certainly unusual. However, there is a unique charm to his playing. He is a blues and funk flavored jazz guitarist, but his 'straight ahead' jazz playing shines through. His CD is a worthy effort and certainly worth a listen.

Online Bio

This recording marks the debut of Los Angeles based guitarist Cliff Brown. Though he has been a stalwart of clubs in and around the L.A. area and recorded on a few scattered recording dates since 1989, he has not emerged with an offering as a leader until now. And that statement is tainted in itself being that these recordings were made back in 1993.Thus the subtitle : " Sessions from '93 ". Add to the list that Cliff Brown isn't your typical guitarist - he's one of those "lefty-upside down" jaggedy be-bop players and you've got an interesting situation that will surely continue to develop.

In a town that brought forth the go-go groove ala Chuck Brown & the Soul Searchers, Cliff Brown started his musical career alongside an artistic career as well, enrolling in the Corcoran School of Art and then later, attending Howard University in his native Washington, D.C. Howard, a veritable hotbed for artistic talent which has helped spawn the likes of dancer/choreographer Debbie Allen, actor/director Ossie Davis, and concert and opera star Jessye Norman also gave impetus to Brown's raw talents along with other contemporaries such as keyboardist Wayne Linsey, drummer Winard Harper, trumpeter Wallace Roney, and vocalist Kudisan Kai, to name a few.

After receiving a jazz studies degree from Howard U., Brown entered into the U.S. Navy in 1984 and toured the Pacific North West area of the U.S. extensively, being based in Seattle, Washington. Much like John Coltrane, Brown played in many different situations including; dance, concert, and swing bands. He also began a short association with the local music scene in Seattle. Brown garnered honorable mention in Guitar Player Magazine in 1989 for his performances as well as fulfilling subsequent radio interviews : most notably radio station KKMO 1360 am in Seattle. He also performed and recorded with a modern jazz group co-led by tenor saxophonist Hadley Caliman and trumpeter Nathan Breedlove called the Jazz Brothers. After fronting his own group, The Cliff Brown Ensemble at the Bellevue Jazz Festival in Seattle, Cliff relocated to the L.A. area in December 1988.

In L.A., Brown has worked with a long list of wide ranging personalities including Carl Anderson, Freda Payne, Jeff Hamilton, Lou Rawls and Ray Brown while working on a masters degree at California State University. He has also been affiliated with the T.V. and motion picture industry on shows like : Melrose Place, Knotts Landing, Star Trek, and the Malcolm & Eddie T.V. sitcom.

The selections represented on " In The Meantime " came from a brief association that Brown had 'hanging out' in the Leimert Park area of Los Angeles ( 43rd & Degnan ) in the early 1990's at Billy Higgins' World Stage. It was during this time that Brown met up with bassist Marcus Shelby and drummer Willie Jones and eventually recorded with members of Black/Note. D-Mob ( an attempt at a Miles Davis late-eighties style ) was the only non-live track that was included because it was recorded during the same time with alto saxophonist James Mahone, and veteran bassist/producer James Manning.

Cliff Brown on the web:



Doc Dosco is a jazz guitarist, composer and audio consultant living in Los Angeles, CA. His website is located at http://www.docdosco.com, where you can find more information on the 'What's Hot with Jazz Guitar' columns, audio clips of Doc's playing, and many additional features. Doc now endorses Peerless Guitars and has the website Jazz Guitar Zone to help promote Peerless jazz guitars in the US. He also endorses the new Pignose Valve Tube Amps -- great for jazz (and anything else!)

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