Other than a trio set with the legendary pianist Hasaan Ibn Ali, this set was Max Roach's only recording as a leader during 1963-67. Three of the six numbers ("Nommo," "St. Louis Blues" and "In the Red") find Roach heading a group that includes trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, altoist James Spaulding, pianist Ronnie Mathews, bassist Jymie Merritt and, on "St. Louis Blues," Roland Alexander on soprano. Their music is essentially advanced hard-bop with a generous amount of space taken up by Roach's drum solos. The other three selections ("The Drum Also Waltzes," "Drums Unlimited" and "For Big Sid") are unaccompanied features for Max Roach and because of the melodic and logically-planned nature of his improvisations, they continually hold on to one's attention.
Study in Brown features the 1955 version of the Clifford Brown/Max Roach Quintet, a group also including tenor saxophonist Harold Land, pianist Richie Powell, and bassist George Morrow. One of the premiere early hard bop units, this band had unlimited potential. Highlights of this set are "Cherokee" (during which trumpeter Brown is brilliant), "Swingin'," and "Sandu." All of this group's recordings are well worth acquiring.
“What was immediately striking was the fresh sound of the quintet. The remarkable empathy within the group, the careful selection of material and the exciting arrangements by Powell all contributed mightily to that sound. Clifford Brown had come into his own as composer as “Sweet Clifford,” “Joy Spring” and “Daahoud” demonstrate. It didn’t hurt that Roach and Brown were complete originals and among the greatest performers on their instruments.
Although Clifford Brown did a phenomenal amount of commercial recordings during his all too brief lifetime (he died prior to his 26th birthday in a car crash that also took the life of his quintet's pianist Richie Powell, Bud's younger brother), relatively few of the recordings he made were on stage. Fortunately, this CD includes performances from two 1956 broadcasts from the old Basin Street club in New York City, and two tracks from a Carnegie Hall concert the previous year…