Ray Brown

Ray Brown
from Portrait of Dizzy Gillespie, John Lewis, Cecil Payne, Miles Davis, and Ray Brown, Downbeat, New York, N.Y. (between 1946 and 1948) by William Gottlieb

Basic Infomartion

Birth name Raymond Matthews Brown
Born October 13, 1926
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Died July 2, 2002
Indianapolis, Indiana, United States


Year Note
1926 Raymond Matthews Brown was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on October 13.
1934 His first instrument was piano and he had piano lessons and was memorizing Fats Waller recordings.
High school era He tried the trombone, but because of a financial problem, he began playing the bass in the high school jazz orchestra. Then, he learned and practiced Jimmy Blanton’s bass lines through Duke Ellington records, and he was also studying the solos of Oscar Pettiford and Slam Stewart. He began playing his newfound trade in jazz clubs in and around Pittsburgh. His level was already professional enough to get offers to join professional jazz bands on road trips, (but he did not join into any road trips because of his mother thought.)
1943 He met Hank Jones (Hank Jones said it’s his first time to heard Ray’s play)
1944 He left town after graduation to spend eight months with Jimmy Hinsley’s band, then another eight months with Luis (Snookum) Russell’s band. Eight months later, while on the road in Miami with Russell, he followed the suggestion of fellow band members and moved to New York City.
1945 He was arriving in New York, he met up with Hank Jones, and was introduced to Dizzy Gillespie. The next day, he had a chance to join to rehearsal of the band consisted of Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Max Roach, Charlie Parker. He joined into DIzzy Gillespie’s band (Milt Jackson(vib), Al Haig(pf) and Stan Levy(dr)), Gillespie took the group to California in the fall.
1946 He started his own trio featuring Hank Jones on piano and either Charlie Smith, Buddy Rich, or Shelly Manne on drums. He joined into Dizzy Gillespie’s second big band and Gillespie’s sextet (Sonny Stitt(as), Al Haig(pf), Milt Jackson(vib), Stan Levey(dr). In the May, the sextet recorded “One Bass Hit”, which featured his bass talents.) He played with such notable musicians as Art Tatum and Charlie Parker. On February 5th, he took part in one of Charlie Parker’s sessions for the Dial label, such as “Diggin’ Diz.”
1947 He became the bass player in the Milt Jackson Quartet(John Lewis(pf) and Kenny Clarke(dr)), which was the rhythm section of the Gillespie band and become famous as the Modern Jazz Quartet in 1952 (but then he was not the member anymore). He married with vocalist Ella Fitzgerald (he met with her when she joined the Gillespie band as a special guest). He recorded ‘Two Bass Hit” with Gillespie’s big band.
1948 He left Gillespie band to accompany Fitzgerald with his own trio(Hank Jones(pf), Charlie Smith(dr)). He performed with Fitzgerald on Norman Granz’s Jazz at the Philharmonic tours and various record dates.
1949 In September, he performed when Oscar Peterson made his debut with the tour (he had already played with Peterson at informal Canadian jam sessions). He began an 18-year relationship with Norman Granz’ Jazz at the Philharmonic(JATP). With JATP, he took the stage with Roy Eldridge, Ben Webster, Flip Phillips, Benny Carter and numerous others, including Oscar Peterson on a fateful night at Carnegie Hall. It was Brown’s first work with the jazz pianist Oscar Peterson, in whose trio Brown would play from 1951 to 1966.
early 1950′s He reunited with colleagues from the Gillespie band, Milt Jackson, John Lewis and Kenny Clarke, to form the original Modern Jazz Quartet.
1950 He performed with Oscar Peterson as a duo, and for the next several years, were also billed on various tours. He recorded with Charlie Parker and, between 1950 and 1952, appeared with the Milt Jackson Quartet. At another Parker session in August 1951, he found himself in the company of such sidemen as Red Rodney(tp), John Lewis(pf), and Kenny Clarke(dr). Together they backed Parker on sides which included “Swedish Schnapps,” “Si Si,” “Back Home Blues,” and “Lover Man. A few months later, he appeared with the Milt Jackson Quartet.
1952 He and Fitzgerald divorced, but remained good friends and continued to work together. Around this time he was also appearing in Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts, organised by Norman Granz. Guitarist Irving Ashby and he became the founding members of the Oscar Peterson Trio. March 25th, he attended a Charlie Parker big band recording session in Hollywood, California.
1956 He was featured as the soloist with a big band on an entire album(the whole session was composed, arranged, and conducted by Marty Paich) in Los Angeles It was the first case as a featured bassist with a big band and also another first case: An African-American artist featured in front of an all-white band)
1965 He moved to Hollywood in Los Angeles California. He recorded the scores of countless movies and television shows. (for television, he recorded Lalo Schifrin’s iconic “Mannix” and “Mission Impossible” themes, He played as a regular member of the band of “The Merv Griffin Show” for fifteen years, often was sitting-in with “The Tonight Show” orchestra as well. He performed on most of Hank Mancini and Quincy Jones (for Jones’s score of the film classic, “In Cold Blood”, he and Quincy had provide the musical voice for both of the film’s villains.) He accompanied some of the leading artists of the day, including Frank Sinatra, Billy Eckstine, Tony Bennett, Sarah Vaughan, and Nancy Wilson there. He managed the Modern Jazz Quartet, as well as Quincy Jones. He composed music for films and television shows.
1966 He left Oscar Peterson’s trio (He kept playing for 15 years in the trio.) (1965?)
1974 He co-founded the L.A. Four(whose repertoire was a mixture of Brazilian, classical, and jazz styles), with Bud Shank(as,fl), Luarindo Almeida(gt), and Shelly Mann(dr) (later replaced by Jeff Hamilton). (to 1982) He joined the recording of album Dizzy Gillespie Big 4
1983 He joined up with Milt Jackson again to record the classic Jackson, Johnson, Brown & Company (J. J. Johnson(tb), Tom Ranier(pf), John Collins(gt), and Roy McCurdy(dr)).
1984 He formed a trio with Gene Harris(pf) and Jeff Hamilton(dr). (for 9 years)
1990~93 He joined the “Legendary Oscar Peterson Trio” reunited (Herb Ellis(gt), Bobby Durham(dr) or Jeff Hamilton(dr)).
2002 He had (probably) his last recorded show with Larry Fuller(pf) and Karriem Riggins(dr) in Europe, during the Bern Jazz Festival, on May 4.
2002 He died while napping on July 2 while he was on the road in Indianapolis for a gig at the Jazz Kitchen


Title RecordingYear Rabel Note
New Sounds In Modern Music 1946 Savoy Records
Bass Hit! 1956 Verve His first album as a leader.
New Sounds In Modern Music 1946 Savoy Records
Bass Hit! 1956 Verve His first album as a leader.
This Is Ray Brown 1968 Verve
Jazz Cello 1960 Verve His cell was featured
Ray Brown With The All Star Big Band 1962 Verve With Cannonball Adderley
Much In Common With Milt Jackson 1964, 1965 Verve 1965 recordinging is with a big band
Ray Brown With Milt Jackson 1965 Verve
Brown’s Bag 1975, 1976 Concord
Something For Lester 1977 Contemporary Lester is Lester Koenig (not Lester Young).
Live At The Concord Jazz Festival 1979 Concord
Echoes From West 1981 Atlas
A Ray Brown 3 1982 Concord
Overseas Special 1982 Concord
Bye Bye Blackbird 1984 Paddle Wheel
Soular Energy 1984 Concord
The Red Hot Ray Brown Trio 1985 Concord
Don’t Forget The Blues 1985 Concord
Bam Bam Bam 1988 Concord
Summer Wind: Live At The Loa 1988 Concord
Georgia On My Mind 1989 (1991) Absord
Black Orpheus 1989 ,1991 Evidence
Moore Makes 4 1990 Concord
3 Dimensional: The Ray Brown Trio 1991 Concord
Bass Face 1993 Telarc
Don’t Get Sassy 1994 Telarc
Some Of My Best Friends Are…The Piano Players 1994 Telarc
Seven Steps to Heaven 1995 Telarc
Some Of My Best Friends Are…The Sax Players 1995, 1996 Telarc
Live At Scullers Jazz Club 1996 Telarc
Super Bass 1996 Telarc
Summertime 1997 Telarc
Some Of My Best Friends Are…Singers 1997, 1998 Telarc
Christmas Songs With The Ray Brown Trio 1997, 1998 Telarc
Live At Starbucks 1999 Telarc
I’m Walking 1999 U-can
Walk On 1994, 1996, 2000 Telarc
Some Of My Best Friends Are … Guitarists 2000 Telarc
Some Of My Best Friends Are… The Trumpet Players 2000 Telarc
Super Bass 2 2000 Telarc
Ray Brown, Monty Alexander, & Russell Malone 2002 Telarc His last studio recording.


  • In 1960 he envented a hybrid instrument which has features both of the cello and double bass. It was a forerunner of the piccolo bass.
  • He taught Percy Heath.


  • Ray Brown Master Class