What Brown Did For Me

While a grad student pursuing a masters in Jazz Studies at the prestigious Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, my mentor (and jazz composition professor), the late David N. Baker would have us write a tune every week. He was very keen on tipping the hat to your musical influences, be it by title of song, style of the composition, writing a contrafact (i.e. using the chords/structure of a previously written tune as a template over which to compose a new melody/”head”), or some other musical means. Though a drummer, most of my musical idols and influences are horn players, not drummers. At that particular time, I was listening to a lot of Clifford Brown, one of my favorite trumpeters and a marvelous improviser of “lines”, in particular his use of turns and the way he would arpeggiate/outline chord changes effortlessly in both his writing and soloing. So I decided to heed all three of David’s suggestions: title, style of composition, and contrafact.

I based this tune on Clifford’s “Joy Spring” (without the modulation on the second A) and the head includes several turns as well as arpeggiating of the chord changes. Some Hard Bop style traits include: use of stops/breaks, medium swing tempo, and short motive or “hook” towards the end of the tune. But I was having trouble coming up with a title. While watching TV one evening (a rarity for me for sure), a UPS commercial came on. At the time, their slogan was “What Can Brown Do For You?” Vuala! Clifford Brown had made such an impact on me, the title became obvious: “What Brown Did For Me. ” So fortunate to have a fantastic group of musicians on this track. Many thanks to Mark Rapp, Jonathan Lovett, and Reggie Sullivan! Hope you enjoy.

Mark Rapp: trumpet
Jonathan Lovett: piano
Reggie Sullivan: bass
Jay Ware: drums, composer

Jay Ware