This tribute to the great trumpeter Clifford Brown went on to become one of the best loved ballads among the jazz standards, and one of Benny Golson's most recorded tunes.
At the time of Brown's tragic death in a car accident at age 25, he had already accomplished more than most musicians three times that age. Brown provided a bridge from Louis Armstrong to the modern jazz trumpeters like Miles, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard and countless others influenced by Brown. The music world felt a profound loss from such a young death of such a promising talent.
Like all of Golson's compositions, this song is brilliantly crafted, such that is may sound easy to play. Indeed, when playing from sheet music, it might not be difficult for many players. But this song presents its own challenges. One of the challenges is the song form itself. This is a long-form song. With such a long chorus at ballad tempo, it behooves the soloist to plan the emotional peaks and valleys.
In very rough terms, this is an AABA song form, but with complications. First, it normally begins with a 6-bar intro played by the soloist (or singer). And a nearly identical 8-bar coda is normally added to finish the song. The choruses themselves are not regular. The first A section is a conventional 8 bars. But the second A section is extended to 12 bars. That leads to a short 4-bar bridge, which serves as the climax of the chorus. The lyrics in that bridge are "Every day I hear his lovely tone. In every trumpet sound that has a beauty all its own." From there, we settle to the final 8-bar A section. After all that, it ends up being a 32-bar chorus, but we don't get there the usual way.
Another challenge is that the nature of this tune is thoughtful, like a requiem. This is probably not the place to play a blizzard of your favorite bebop lines. This song calls for a more gentle, thoughtful, emotional touch. Think of playing fewer notes, with each note having more to say.
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