Clifford Brown III is the grandson of legendary jazz trumpeter Clifford Brown and son of Clifford Brown, Jr., who has a show on the KSCM-FM (91.1) jazz station. On April 30, Brown III and his quintet, Brewing Company, will be playing at Peace Lutheran Church in Danville as part of the Jazz at Peace series.
The Brewing Company--Brown on trumpet and flugelhorn, Rick Rivera on drums, Randy Craig on piano, Collin Williams on bass, and Oscar Pangilinan on sax--started as a quartet and added Dayna Stephens on sax in 2010. When Stephens left to return to New York, Brown met Pangilinan, who took Stephens' place. "Oscar is an indispensable member of the band," says Brown. "Colin Williams and Rick Rivera have been on this project since the beginning. We actually got together at a coffee shop to talk over the plan about three months before we picked up instruments for the first time together." Craig took over on piano in mid-2010 when his predecessor decided to pursue other playing formats, Brown notes.
In spite of his jazz forebears, Brown says he didn't touch the horn for seven years after high school, when he was living and working in San Diego. Then he ran into trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos at a Max Roach tribute, and the two became friends. "It wasn't long before the itch was back. I played in a few bands in San Diego to get my chops back," including the Downstroke, a funk band, and IDJ Trio. After a years of these gigs, Brown quit his job to devote himself full-time to the trumpet. In 2009 he moved back to the Bay Area and formed the Brewing Company. Today, Brown says, he plays primarily soul-jazz, mainly original compositions but some standards as well.
In addition to his grandfather and father, his musical influences include contemporary musicians vocalist Gretchen Parlato, former band member Stephens, piano prodigy Taylor Eigsti, and drummer Willie Jones III. "My early life was set to an amazing soundtrack," Brown recalls. "Freddie and Hubbard [a pair of parakeets were my first pets. Donald Byrd and James Brown were often my alarm clock. We had a record room at the house with green shag carpet and rows and rows of black vinyl disks. I think all that goes into my writing and playing these days."
Back in the Bay Area, Brown is partners with his father in Brown Audio Solutions & Services, running most of the daily operations at Northern California radio station KDAI-FM, producing and recording new artists, and mixing and engineering other projects that are further along.
As to how Brown III came to be in the Jazz at Peace series, Ed Klitsch, who books acts for Peace Lutheran, set up the gig, which coincides with the release of the band's new album, the groove-oriented "Released." "Ed and Peace Lutheran offered to host our coming-out party," Brown says.
Jazz at Peace concerts are on the second Sunday of each month at 5:00 P.M. from October through June, at which point they take a summer hiatus. The series is a descendant of the famous Jazz Vespers in New York City. The late Rev. John Gensel, of St. Peter's Lutheran Church in midtown Manhattan, started an evening service for musicians in his flock who couldn't make it to Sunday morning worship after Saturday night gigs.
Klitsch, who has been booking jazz in churches since 1984, notes: "Churches have no cover , no minimum, and no smooth jazz!"
The Brewing Company Concert starts at 7:00 on April 30. Peace Lutheran Church, 3201 Camino Tassajara, Danville, 925-648-7000. For more on the Brewing Company: http://brownaudio.com/TBC2/?page_id=28
John A. Barry is a writer and avocational artist. To share anything art-related, call him at 314-9528 or email [email protected]