Legendary jazz bassist Ray Brown died in his sleep on Tuesday night in Indianapolis. He was 75.
Born in 1926 in Pittsburgh, Pa., Brown began on piano and switched to bass during high school. Upon moving to New York in 1945, he immediately became a part of the emerging bebop scene, playing with Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and Bud Powell. The young bassist played in Gillespie’s big and small bands, and can be heard on famous recordings such as “One Bass-Hit” and “Night in Tunisia.” From 1947 to 1952, Brown was married to Ella Fitzgerald and formed a trio to back the singer. The couple continued to work together after their divorce, with Brown serving as Fitzgerald’s musical director. During the ’50s, he recorded with the Milt Jackson Quartet, which later became the Modern Jazz Quartet, and was a member of the Oscar Peterson trio from 1951 to 1966.