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.
Although Lionel Hampton forbid his sidemen from recording during their trip to France in 1953, many of the musicians fortunately ignored his orders; the band broke up soon anyway. Trumpeter Clifford Brown is heard on this LP mostly with a big band actually put together by Gigi Gryce. A few of these tracks are excerpts but the two takes of "Brownskins" and "Keeping up with Jonesy" are fairly long as is a nearly eight-minute "Chez Moi." The music is not essential but Brownie did not live long enough to record anything less than excellent.
Clifford Curzon was among the finest English pianists of the twentieth century, known for his clear, ego-less performances of the German Classical and Romantic masterpieces. A quiet intellectual who nevertheless possessed a formidable technique, Curzon played everything from Mozart to Liszt with equal authority. His fans often cite this ability to emphasize the personality of each composer, rather than his own, as his most distinctive quality. Curzon recorded for the Decca label for over 30 years, leaving behind a modestly sized, but musically impressive catalog. His recordings of Mozart and Schubert are considered his best.
1955 album by the Clifford Brown and Max Roach Quintet, described by The New York Times as "perhaps the definitive bop group until Mr. Brown's fatal automobile accident in 1956". The album was critically well-received and includes several notable tracks, including two that have since become jazz standards. The album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. It is included in Jazz: A Critic's Guide to the 100 Most Important Recordings at #34, where it is described by New York Times jazz critic Ben Ratliff as "one of the strongest studio albums up to that time". Originally released on the EmArcy label, it has been multiply re-issued, including in a 2000 edition by Verve Records that contains additional tracks.
The performance of the Impromptus, D.899, heard here, confirms Curzon’s place as one of the great Schubert players of his generation. Indeed, the audience was so impressed that they couldn’t help applauding between each Impromptu. Not only does Curzon manage to play with a range of emotion, from limpid tenderness to controlled aggression, but his attention to the sound he produces from the piano never fails to impress.