In a way, Brown was the Wynton Marsalis of his time; like Marsalis, Brown came on the jazz scene following a period of significant stylistic change. However, unlike Marsalis (who rejected the free jazz made famous by the generation just preceding his own), Brown chose to embrace the innovations of his immediate elders. In the process, Brown became one of the great post-Gillespie trumpeters, developing a voice that spoke the language of bebop with a distinct, personal inflection. In September 1953 – having just recorded his first dates as a leader for Blue Note – Brown went to Europe with Lionel Hampton.
Whether at the helm of a record date or as a sideman, Clifford Jordan was known for giving his all. These studio recordings were originally made for Strata East, a label known for its adventurous spirit. The tenor saxophonist leads two separate groups. The sextet selections include trombonist Julian Priester, pianist Wynton Kelly, bassists Wilbur Ware and Richard Davis, drummer Albert Heath, and trumpeter Don Cherry. Jordan's pensive "Vienna" is given an extended workout, with Cherry's somewhat abstract playing fitting in rather well. The second piece, Jordan's "Doug's Prelude," is also a bit brooding, showcasing the leader, Priester, and Kelly.
Although undoubtedly an expensive acquisition, this ten-CD set is perfectly done and contains dozens of gems. The remarkable but short-lived trumpeter Clifford Brown has the second half of his career fully documented (other than his final performance) and he is showcased in a wide variety of settings. The bulk of the numbers are of Brownie's quintet with co-leader and drummer Max Roach, either Harold Land or Sonny Rollins on tenor, pianist Richie Powell, and bassist George Morrow (including some previously unheard alternate takes), but there is also much more.
Lee Morgan’s first meeting on record with Clifford Jordan was in June 1957, when Morgan was about to turn nineteen and Jordan had just begun making a name for himself. After their first collaboration, the precocious Morgan occasionally called Jordan to play tenor on his recordings; thus they recorded together twice in 1960 and once in January 1962.