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 nameRaymond Matthews Brown
BornOctober 13, 1926
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
DiedJuly 2, 2002
Indianapolis, Indiana, United States


1926Raymond Matthews Brown was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on October 13.
1934His first instrument was piano and he had piano lessons and was memorizing Fats Waller recordings.
High school eraHe 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.)
1943He met Hank Jones (Hank Jones said it’s his first time to heard Ray’s play)
1944He 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.
1945He 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.
1946He 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.”
1947He 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.
1948He 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.
1949In 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′sHe reunited with colleagues from the Gillespie band, Milt Jackson, John Lewis and Kenny Clarke, to form the original Modern Jazz Quartet.
1950He 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.
1952He 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.
1956He 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)
1965He 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.
1966He left Oscar Peterson’s trio (He kept playing for 15 years in the trio.) (1965?)
1974He 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
1983He 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)).
1984He formed a trio with Gene Harris(pf) and Jeff Hamilton(dr). (for 9 years)
1990~93He joined the “Legendary Oscar Peterson Trio” reunited (Herb Ellis(gt), Bobby Durham(dr) or Jeff Hamilton(dr)).
2002He had (probably) his last recorded show with Larry Fuller(pf) and Karriem Riggins(dr) in Europe, during the Bern Jazz Festival, on May 4.
2002He died while napping on July 2 while he was on the road in Indianapolis for a gig at the Jazz Kitchen


New Sounds In Modern Music1946Savoy Records
Bass Hit!1956VerveHis first album as a leader.
New Sounds In Modern Music1946Savoy Records
Bass Hit!1956VerveHis first album as a leader.
This Is Ray Brown1968Verve
Jazz Cello1960VerveHis cell was featured
Ray Brown With The All Star Big Band1962VerveWith Cannonball Adderley
Much In Common With Milt Jackson1964, 1965Verve1965 recordinging is with a big band
Ray Brown With Milt Jackson1965Verve
Brown’s Bag1975, 1976Concord
Something For Lester1977ContemporaryLester is Lester Koenig (not Lester Young).
Live At The Concord Jazz Festival1979Concord
Echoes From West1981Atlas
A Ray Brown 31982Concord
Overseas Special1982Concord
Bye Bye Blackbird1984Paddle Wheel
Soular Energy1984Concord
The Red Hot Ray Brown Trio1985Concord
Don’t Forget The Blues1985Concord
Bam Bam Bam1988Concord
Summer Wind: Live At The Loa1988Concord
Georgia On My Mind1989 (1991)Absord
Black Orpheus1989 ,1991Evidence
Moore Makes 41990Concord
3 Dimensional: The Ray Brown Trio1991Concord
Bass Face1993Telarc
Don’t Get Sassy1994Telarc
Some Of My Best Friends Are…The Piano Players1994Telarc
Seven Steps to Heaven1995Telarc
Some Of My Best Friends Are…The Sax Players1995, 1996Telarc
Live At Scullers Jazz Club1996Telarc
Super Bass1996Telarc
Some Of My Best Friends Are…Singers1997, 1998Telarc
Christmas Songs With The Ray Brown Trio1997, 1998Telarc
Live At Starbucks1999Telarc
I’m Walking1999U-can
Walk On1994, 1996, 2000Telarc
Some Of My Best Friends Are … Guitarists2000Telarc
Some Of My Best Friends Are… The Trumpet Players2000Telarc
Super Bass 22000Telarc
Ray Brown, Monty Alexander, & Russell Malone2002TelarcHis 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