Last month I published Chapter One of "The Jazz Giants" highlighting Oscar Peterson. The subject of Chapter Two, Ray Brown could be called Oscar's partner because they recorded so much wonderful music together. When it comes to upright bass, Ray Brown was the man. Ask any professional musician who the "best of the best" is when it comes to upright bass, and you will always see Ray Brown at the top of the list. At the age of Twenty Ray was introduced to Dizzy Gillespie who was looking for a bass player. Dizzy hired Brown on the spot and Ray soon was playing with musical greats, Art Tatum and Charlie Parker. It was in 1952 after his divorce from Ella Fitzgerald that Ray got to work with Oscar Peterson and continued to play with Oscar's band from 1952 to 1966. Ray was awarded a Grammy for his composition "Gravy Waltz", a song that later became the theme song for "The Steve Allen Show". During 1990 to 1993 the Oscar Peterson Trio reunited and the albums produced during these three years earned 4 Grammy awards. The group stopped performing in 1993 when Oscar suffered a severe stroke. Ray was highly regarded as a master teacher and was always in demand by outstanding musicians trying to improve their skills including John Clayton, Jeff Hamilton and Diana Krall when she was only playing piano and not singing yet.
I found two youTubes for you to listen to and hear the Ray Brown experience. The first video is a Ray Brown solo on "Black Orpheus" that is just wonderful. Ray Brown performed this song as part of the celebration of his 75th birthday. The second video is "The Ray Brown Trio" playing "Lady Be Good" with Gene Harris on piano and Jeff Hamilton on drums. Enjoy!
Ray Brown Solo on "Black Orpheus"
The Ray Brown Trio Playing "Lady Be Good"