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Clifford Brown/Eric Dolphy: Clifford Brown + Eric Dolphy Together 1954

RLR (Rare Live Recordings, boasts other rather remarkable finds. It was known that the Clifford Brown/Max Roach Quintet, while being formed in Los Angeles in 1954, sometimes practiced in the home of Eric Dolphy’s parents, but the erratically recorded Clifford Brown + Eric Dolphy Together 1954 (RLR 88616) is a surprise. Lengthy versions of “Deception” and “Fine and Dandy” feature the 25-year-old Dolphy (four years away from joining Chico Hamilton’s group) sounding a bit like Charlie Parker on alto. Brown (just 23 but very much in his prime), Harold Land on tenor, pianist Richie Powell and Max Roach also solo. In addition, there are several numbers with Brown playing decent piano behind Dolphy and Land, and two duets on which a so-so pianist backs the trumpeter.

Having better sound while still privately recorded, The Last Concert (RLR 88617) is a historically significant two-CD set that releases, for the first time, the final performance by the Brown/Roach Quintet. It was recorded June 16, 1956, just one week before Brownie and Richie Powell’s tragic deaths in a car accident. With Sonny Rollins making the band a true supergroup, the quintet performs eight numbers including marathon versions of “Just One of Those Things,” “Good Bait” and “I Get a Kick Out of You.” Brown takes one wondrous solo after another. In addition, the 1955 version of the group (with Harold Land for Rollins) plays four numbers at the Newport Jazz Festival and Brown jams a rather messy rendition of “Tea for Two” with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker. This twofer is well worth acquiring.

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