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Blue Note Club Pays Tribute to Ray Brown

After the death of Ray Brown (pictured) on July 2, friend and fellow bassist John Clayton remarked: “When speaking about this moment to me, Ray made it clear that he wanted us to throw a big party with lots of music. We’ll see to it that he gets his last wish.” Clayton will honor Brown’s request Sept. 3-8 by serving as musical director for a tribute to Brown at the Blue Note in New York City. Brown’s trio had been scheduled to play at the Blue Note at the end of August and in lieu of that, a lineup of some of the biggest names in jazz will be appearing to honor the great bassist.

Among the musicians already confirmed for the event are Russell Malone, Jon Faddis, Regina Carter, Marlena Shaw, Monty Alexander, Nicholas Payton, Kevin Mahogany, and Benny Green. The rhythm section for the week will consist of Larry Fuller (piano) and Karriem Riggins (drums), who were members of Brown’s last trio, as well as Clayton on bass. More performers will be announced in the coming weeks.

Brown has a long history with the Blue Note club. Nicknamed “The Godfather of the Blue Note” by the club’s founders and patrons, Brown was responsible for getting many jazz legends to play there, in turn helping the Blue Note gain the widespread recognition that it enjoys today. Brown first brought Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, and Carmen McRae to the club, and also helped to persuade Oscar Peterson to return to the club circuit starting with a gig at the Blue Note. Brown also organized the Modern Jazz Quartet’s reunion week in the early ’80s, which, of course, took place at the Blue Note. Brown performed at the club an average of twice each year, including a 75th birthday celebration just last year which featured Nicholas Payton and Kevin Mahogany. Every Blue Note show since Brown’s passing has been dedicated to his memory.

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