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Clifford Brown with Tadd Dameron:
Chronicle of the Summer of 1953

Joan Mar Sauqué Vila


In June 1953, pianist/arranger Tadd Dameron (1917–1965) put together a new nonet in order to make a record on Prestige Records, his first session as a leader after four years of silence on disc. Among the musicians he recruited was young trumpeter Clifford Brown (1930–1956), who had just begun his professional career with Chris Powell and The Blue Flames but had not yet taken part in any jazz recording.

Just as he put the nonet together, Dameron was hired to perform at Club Paradise in Atlantic City, in July and August on a daily basis. In that context, Brown started his friendship with other young musicians with whom he would collaborate regularly for the remaining of the year and, who, in turn, would play a definite role in Brown’s musical development.

Certainly, there are several witness accounts and documents highlighting these events for their musical liveliness and the precocious quality of their protagonists. Living together, ideas flowed unimpeded among them, as demonstrated by conceptual similarities in future recordings. Even so, documents dealing with this period reveal contradictions with regard to several points. The aim of this article is to delve in the facts which linked Clifford Brown and Tadd Dameron in the summer of 1953 and clarify the events having contradictory accounts. This work is presented in chronological order in order to highlight the succession of events.

Tadd Dameron, Interviewed

In March 1952, Tadd Dameron was interviewed in St. Louis by disc jockey Harry Frost after a performance by “Bull Moose” Jackson’s rhythm & blues band, of which he was a member. Among other things, Dameron explains that he was beginning to plan a recording for Atlantic Records for the following August, with arrangements by himself and by Benny Golson (b. 1929), who was also present at the interview. Frost asked Dameron:

Frost. — What about personnel, Tadd? Fats has gone, do you have any idea who you’ll use on trumpet?
Dameron. — Yeah, I want to use a fellow named Brownie. He’s in....
Golson. — Wilmington, Delaware.
Dameron. — Wilmington, Delaware. And he’s another Fats Navarro. He’s a little smoother than Fats was, I think, and he has a lot of drive....
Frost. — What is he doing now? Who is he playing with?
Dameron. — Well, I think he’s playing with Chris Powell now....
Golson. — Yeah, in Chicago. [1]

In late March 1952, Clifford Brown was indeed in Chicago with Chris Powell and The Blue Flames, performing at the Capitol Lounge, in Chicago’s Loop area [2] at which time they made a recording for OKeh Records, Brown’s studio debut. Dameron then revealed the rest of the names he was counting on for the session: Johnny Coles on trumpet, J.J. Johnson on trombone, Benny Golson on tenor sax, Cecil Payne on baritone sax, Jymie Merritt on bass, and Bobby Smith on drums. [3] Despite his willingness, this session was not realized in the summer of 1952: Dameron had to wait a whole year to make it happen, under different circumstances. Even so, Dameron and Brown did spend time together in Atlantic City in the summer of 1952, when they performed there with “Bull Moose” Jackson and Chris Powell, respectively.

A year later, probably in May 1953, Tadd Dameron was again interviewed, this time by radio host Leigh Kamman. Once more, Dameron announced that he was preparing his upcoming recording session and detailed a line-up not dissimilar to the one he provided to Harry Frost. He sounded enthusiastic about the recording and also about being able to count on young talent, “musicians that later will have names and will be very great”. Then, Dameron mentions the recently arrived Philly Joe Jones on drums, he announces that Benny Golson will be taking part, and refers to Clifford Brown: “and then we have a wonderful trumpet player, his name is Brownie, no one has ever heard him on a record, but he has a wonderful reputation, being one of the greats.” [4] The main difference as regards the previous aborted session would be the record label: instead of Atlantic, Prestige Records would release this session.

A Study in Dameronia

Therefore, in early June 1953, Dameron convened the nonet and began rehearsals for what would become A Study in Dameronia (Prestige PRLP 159). At that time, Clifford Brown was in New York performing with Chris Powell at Café Society, opposite Sarah Vaughan. [5] Brown’s appearance in New York piqued the curiosity of people who had heard about him, among them Alfred Lion, co-owner of Blue Note records. As soon as he heard Brown play, Lion offered him to partake in a recording by a quintet on his label, scheduled for June 9, 1953, together with saxophonist Lou Donaldson, whom Brown had already met, and he accepted. At the same time, Brown was also able to rehearse with Dameron’s nonet for the already scheduled recording of June 11.

The final line-up of Dameron’s nonet included Idrees Sulieman and Clifford Brown on trumpets, Herb Mullins on trombone, Gigi Gryce on alto sax, Benny Golson on tenor sax, Oscar Estelle on baritone sax, Percy Heath on double bass, Philly Joe Jones on drums, and Dameron himself on piano. On June 11, 1953, they convened at a studio in New York City in order to record four titles which would be released as a 10-inch LP on Prestige Records. Label owner Bob Weinstock did not provide for paid rehearsals and did not waste tape in second takes. He chose to organize relatively informal sessions, without strict musical planning ahead of time. Even so, this was not the case for Dameron’s session. In listening to the recording, it is obvious that the band had rehearsed the arrangements, regardless of payment. Dameron wrote four new compositions for the session, “Philly J.J.”, “Choose Now”, “Dial ‘B’ for Beauty”, and “Theme of No Repeat”, which he arranged for the nonet. As Sulieman recalled:

When the date came up, Tadd said Clifford would play all the solos and I’d play the lead trumpet which I was really kind of disgusted about that, you know. But I was happy because he was very nervous on the recording, which you cannot hear. Yeah, I had to keep saying to him — he kept saying to me, “I’m failing.” And I said, “No, man, you’re not failing. You’re just playing so much, you can’t understand it.” [Laughs] So after a week or two he called me back and said, “I listened to them and I like it.” So I felt much better then. [6]

Sulieman, Brown’s senior by seven years, had to settle for the role of first trumpet, since Dameron opted for assigning solo duties exclusively to his younger colleague. Golson, who also had his moment under the spotlight, remembered:

The recording studio was the smallest I had ever seen except when making demos. Nine musicians plus a grand piano and a set of drums were crammed into a thimble sized room. Clifford sat behind me. When he stood up to play, his microphone was just in front of me to my left. As he played, his horn was slightly above my left shoulder and directly adjacent to my ear. [...] After the first session, I told Clifford that I knew everything about him, down to his very breath. He laughed as he always did. [7]

The session was recorded by sound engineer Doug Hawkins and supervised by Bob Weinstock and writer/producer Ira Gitler, who also wrote the liner notes for the first edition of the album:

Clifford Brown is one of the new stars who is well on his way towards establishing himself as a trumpet great. “Brownie,” as he is known, has all the technical equipment with the heart and soul of a jazzman. His hard brilliant sound reminds one of the late Fats Navarro — some of his cascade runs of Dizzy Gillespie — and then there is a lot of Clifford Brown. [8]

And on a subsequent reissue of the recording, Gitler added, in more detail:

In 1953, when I was supervising sessions for Prestige, Tadd Dameron had a recording coming up and told me of a great new trumpeter he was going to unveil. When he mentioned the name of Clifford Brown it registered immediately because many musicians had been coming back from Philadelphia talking about him. For a week prior to the date Tadd kept telling me about Brownie and I was not disappointed. When Brownie stood up and took his first solo on “Philly J. J.”, I nearly fell off my seat in the control room. The power, range and brilliance together with the warmth and invention was something that I hadn’t heard since Fats Navarro, but Brownie, although influenced by Fats, was not just a reincarnation of Fats — he was a new trumpet giant. [9]

Even though this comment by Ira Gitler is from the end of 1956 — after Brown’s passing — it is not, necessarily, an exaggeration, bearing in mind the panorama regarding the trumpet in jazz: besides Dizzy Gillespie (b. 1917), Fats Navarro (1923–1950) and Miles Davis (b. 1926), there were no improvisers who had contributed substantially to explore new possibilities for the instrument in the context of bebop. Other contemporary players, such as Benny Harris, Kenny Dorham, or Red Rodney, trained in big bands and alumni of Charlie Parker’s small groups, had not yet left any distinctive mark on the language. In the early 1950s, bebop had begun to coalesce beyond New York City and new trumpet players were appearing, such as Joe Gordon and Herb Pomeroy in Boston, Chet Baker and Jack Sheldon in Los Angeles, and Clifford Brown and Johnny Coles in Philadelphia. The sudden arrival of Clifford Brown in New York came as a surprising discovery for many. The young player combined great creativity with a phrasing in the style of Fats Navarro.

Brown turned out three solid and mature solos in the session for Dameron, on “Philly J.J.”, “Choose Now”, and “Theme of No Repeat”. Soon after the recording, he left Chris Powell and the Blue Flames, and began his career as a professional jazz player in earnest. [10]

Tropicana Revue

After the recording, Dameron’s nonet remained active rehearsing for the Tropicana Revue, a variety show which would premier at Club Paradise in Atlantic City, where the band would perform on a daily basis for the remaining of the summer season. Clarence Robinson, the organizer and impresario of the show, commissioned the music to Dameron, under the proviso that he should adapt it to the different numbers included in the show, be it dance, song, or theatre. Dameron added a singer and a percussionist to the ensemble, and the new production opened on July 1. [11]

Atlantic City, with its beaches, clubs and casinos, had become a tourist attraction, mostly for white people, but even though segregation was open and strict, African American families would spend their summer holidays there too. Even so, African Americans were allowed only in certain clubs, like Harlem or Paradise. Benny Golson recalls that prevailing segregation impeded their access to hotels in the tourist hub and, therefore, he and the rest of the troupe had to seek accommodation in private, African American, homes: There was a wrinkle, however. Atlantic City was still more than a little bit racist. In 1953, segregation reigned unabated there. We all had to find single rooms in black homes. The discomfort was complete. When black folks went to the beach in Atlantic City, we were limited to an area several blocks away from the water. The surf coast — miles of it — was reserved for whites only. [12]

The Tropicana Revue line-up included, among others, MC and singer Bob Bailey; male dancer Little Buck; female dancers Gloria Howard and Janet Sauyres; Iron Jaws Jackson, who pulled tables and chairs with his teeth while dancing; the comic duo Stump and Stumpy; comedian Anita Nichols; Haitian dancers Princess Tondelayo and Bobby Lopez; tap-dancer Bobby Ephram; singer Betty Carter; and Tadd Dameron’s band. Dameron’s band comprised Johnny Coles and Clifford Brown on trumpets (with Idrees Sulieman as occasional sub), Don Cole on trombone (alternating with Herb Mullins and Steve Pulliam), Gigi Gryce, Benny Golson, and Cecil Payne on alto, tenor, and baritone saxes respectively (the latter sometimes subbed by Oscar Estelle or Kellice Swaggerty); Jymie Merritt on bass (with Percy Heath as his sub); Philly Joe Jones on drums (replaced by Charli Persip towards the end of July), a percussionist whose identity has been lost, and Dameron himself as pianist and musical director. [13] As Swaggerty explained:

After the show, we would play dance music. No jazz… That was a hard job for $100 a week. We had to play a breakfast show. We went to work at 9:00 p.m. on Saturday night and didn’t get out until something like 5:00 a.m. the next morning. We had to play a breakfast show some time well after midnight. [14]

Lionel Hampton arrives at Surf Club in Wildwood, FL

Swaggerty also remembers that one night in early July, Art Farmer and Joe Gordon came out with their trumpets to the jam session which took place regularly after the gig and played with Clifford Brown. When the Paradise shut down, all three trumpet players made their way to club Harlem to keep the jam session going. [15] Besides Farmer and Gordon, Quincy Jones (b. 1933) was also present, since, while Dameron was in residence at the Paradise, on July 6, Lionel Hampton’s popular big band began their two-week run at Surf Club in Wildwood — Farmer and Jones were members of it. As Surf Club and Paradise were near each other, members of both orchestras were able to keep in touch at the time. Jones had already met Gigi Gryce, three or four years earlier, when they both attended the conservatory in Boston. Furthermore, from Art Farmer’s recording as a leader, on July 2, 1953, we know that Gryce, Farmer, and Jones had recently been in touch.

As Quincy Jones recalled:

I first heard Clifford at the Club Harlem in Atlantic City, New Jersey, with Tadd Dameron’s band, playing for the Larry Steele Harlem Revue [sic.], [16] along with Gigi Gryce and Benny Golson, while we were playing nearby in Wildwood. We were always sniffing around for great young boppers. [17]

It was at that time when Jones pulled Hampton’s coattails towards some of the members of Tadd Dameron’s band, namely Gigi Gryce, Clifford Brown and Benny Golson. Jones recalls: “We begged Hamp to hire Clifford, Gigi and Benny, and after hearing them once, he didn’t need convincing.” [18]

And Golson adds:

Q [Quincy Jones] and some bandmates came to check us out. No doubt they expected more blowing from us. But they heard enough to tell Gates (Lionel Hampton) about Clifford, Gigi, and me. Quincy recommended the three of us for that band, which was about to undergo significant changes. We were wanted over there immediately. [19]

Hampton was aware that some members of his band did not want to take part in the European tour scheduled for September and October, which made it convenient for him to invite Gryce, Brown, and Golson.

At the same time, on July 23, the drummer in Dameron’s band, Philly Joe Jones, was arrested for possession of heroin, [20] and he was immediately replaced by young Charli Persip, who remembered:

Tadd Dameron was playing a show at the Paradise Club in Atlantic City, and he had a lot of stars in the band. Clifford Brown on trumpet, Philly Joe Jones was the drummer. Betty Carter was the singer. And Philly Joe Jones was killing at that time, man. I thought they were talking about the lounge. So I went over there and sure enough, Philly Joe had gotten himself arrested, and he had to run out of the town to keep from going to jail. So there was no drummer. So, they called a rehearsal to break in a new drummer. They tried the guy that was in the lounge, and sad to say, his playing was so bad that Tadd went up on the stage and put his hands all over the drums — to stop him from playing!
And there I was sitting there, doing nothing. So the union man saw me and said, “Oh! You! Come on!” Philly Joe’s drums and everything were still there. And the club owner said, “All right. Let’s run the first number.” I had seen the show, but I didn’t know it at all. But the book was there, and I was a good reader. So I played the opening number, which was very lavish. And the owner came over, and Clarence Robinson was the producer, and they all got together to listen with Dameron. And one of them said, “This boy played the opening number better than Philly Joe Jones.” And so I got the gig. [21]

There is no definitive evidence that Persip was in Dameron’s band at the same time as Clifford Brown and Gigi Gryce although, even if it did happen, it could have only been for two or three days, since all other witnesses concur that Gryce and Brown joined Hampton in short course. Golson, who was more committed to/involved with Dameron, would join Hampton later on. As he himself recalled:

However, a problem had to be resolved. First, Tadd needed a week’s leave because of illness. Second, the management refused to release us because we had signed contracts for the show’s duration. With Tadd’s unavoidable absence, our departure would jeopardize the entire show. The producer was right. One way to resolve the problem, I thought, might satisfy everybody. I asked the producer to let Clifford and Gigi leave immediately. I would stay until their replacements learned the music completely. That idea was agreeable to him and to Hamp. So, Gigi and Clifford left soon after their replacements arrived from New York. Three weeks later I joined Hamp’s band in Greenville, South Carolina. [22]

On another occasion, Golson was more open with regard to Dameron’s absence:

Tadd had given the band up. I’m not going to tell you why. But the police were looking for him and he had to get out of town.... I told the club owner, “Okay, let him go, I’ll stay here and make sure that the new guys have got the show down right.” When everybody had it down, then I split and went with Hamp. [23]

Addiction to narcotics was seemingly rife among the members of Tropicana Revue, both actors and musicians. [24] For this reason, there were several incidents throughout the summer season, such as the arrest of Philly Joe Jones or Tadd Dameron’s absence. However, Gryce, Brown and Golson stood firm in the face of addiction: extramusical reasons played a defining role in their leaving. [25]

Brown, Gryce and Golson with Lionel Hampton

The young boppers, added to the already present Quincy Jones, Art Farmer, Jimmy Cleveland, and Anthony Ortega, as well as later additions, like Alan Dawson, George Wallington, and Annie Ross, were essential in the most modern line-up Hampton had presented to date. [26] Even though their repertoire still included Hampton’s hits, such as “Flying Home”, “Air Mail Special”, “How High the Moon”, “Stardust” and “On the Sunny Side of the Street”, in the following months more modern sounds, in the shape of some compositions and arrangements penned by Quincy Jones and Gigi Gryce, were incorporated. [27] At the International Jazz Festival in Paris of 1949, it was obvious that bebop was welcome in Europe. Hampton did not overlook this fact, and during his first European tour he incorporated the new sounds, while still occupying most of the spotlight himself.

Brown and Gryce joined Lionel Hampton’s orchestra towards the end of 1953, at the same time as five of its members attended a mass meeting of Jehovah’s Witnesses at Yankee Stadium in New York City, between July 20 and 26, 1953. [28] It is plausible that Hampton needed replacements precisely at that time, although it is not known whether that event was attended by Bobby Plater and Eddie Mullens, who were replaced by Gryce and Brown, respectively. The only member whose attendance has been confirmed is Curley Hamner. [29]

Gryce and Brown got started in the band with a tour of the Southeast, with the following dates:

DateLocationDistance in miles (aprox.)
August 2New York, NY-
August 3Raleigh, NC525
August 4Roanoke, VA155
August 5Charleston, WV180
August 6Kinston, NC400
August 7Wilmington, NC85
August 8Charlotte, NC250
August 9Knoxville, TN230
August 10Greenville, SC168
August 11Florence, SC185
August 12Salisbury, NC125
August 13–14Columbia, SC135
August 14Norfolk, VA385
August 15Washington, DC200

Figure 1: Gig dates of Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra [30]

Benny Golson joined the orchestra on August 10 in Greenville, but just after four days, on August 14, Gladys Hampton, Lionel Hampton’s wife and manager, notified him of his redundancy with immediate effect. Golson recalls:

My verbal contract for twenty-two dollars a night was torched. The road manager’s word meant nothing to Gladys. We were treated like urchins out of Charles Dickens. Gladys had thought of a way to save money and that was all that counted. [...] Two days later the band pulled into Washington, D.C., for an outdoor concert. When we arrived in Washington, I caught a train to Philadelphia. [31]

Clifford Brown and Louis Armstrong?

In the meantime, Tadd Dameron was still performing at the Paradise in Atlantic City and the summer season kept pulling both tourists and artists performing at the many venues in the area. It was common practice that musicians passing through the city would pop in other clubs to listen other orchestras or take part in jam sessions, as it happened with members of Lionel Hampton’s orchestra. In mid-August, Atlantic City hosted none other than Louis Armstrong. Although Brown, Gryce, and Golson had already left with Hampton, Golson recalls in his autobiography:

One night just before we kicked off, Louis Armstrong came in to the club. Many celebrities frequented the show, and Pops seemed not to be an exception. His horn was elsewhere; apparently, the great man was out on the town having a good time. We were all delighted to see him. Some of us knew him. Others knew only his reputation. This night Pops displayed extraordinarily good spirits, so Tadd urged him to play a couple of numbers with us. The great man declined; he didn’t have his horn with him. Johnny Coles offered his, and Pops relented. [...] Now we had a voice from the past as well as one from the present. Tadd wanted to set up a battle of sorts between Clifford and Louis, but with love and admiration: no cutting session, no strain, no embarrassment.
Louis didn’t know bebop tunes such as “Confirmation”, so “Sweet Georgia Brown” was called. The band had fun on the opening chorus, but after that the evening was all Clifford and Pops. Each displayed his chops, while drawing from his era’s traditions. [...] A strong admiration and friendship was evident in their shared ferocity. They attacked one another as if laughing joyously through their horns. [...]
Clifford Brown, for his part, played that night like an urgent traveler stepping on the gas pedal in a convertible speeding downhill. Both men played low as well as mid-range and high notes with abandon and bravura. On that memorable evening in Atlantic City, there seemed no limitations or restrictions between them. [32]

Despite the plausibility of this meeting, with Armstrong and Brown sharing the stage, this could not have happened, at least not as per Golson’s account. Louis Armstrong did perform in Atlantic City, but between August 16 and 22, 1953. [33] By then, it had already been three weeks since Clifford Brown had left Atlantic City to join Lionel Hampton. This joint performance could not have happened in July either, since Louis Armstrong was in Chicago from July 2 to August 1, and in Toronto between August 3 and 6. [34] It could not have happened right before Golson left with Hampton either, because at the time Armstrong was performing at the 3 Rivers Inn club in Syracuse, NY, between August 7 and 9. [35] Armstrong’s next date we are aware of took place on August 15 at the Watergate Hotel in Washington D.C., in a triple program sharing the bill with the bands of Illinois Jacquet and Lionel Hampton. [36] Thus, even though on August 15 Armstrong and Brown did share the stage at the Watergate in Washington D.C., the circumstances do not match Golson’s recollection: at the time, neither Tadd Dameron nor Golson himself were present, since the pianist was still in Atlantic City and Golson had just been expelled from Hampton’s band on that very day.

A situation similar to Golson’s account might have happened in Atlantic City, although with Clifford Brown absent, and only if Golson had returned to Paradise Club after his brief sojourn with Hampton. In that case, it is possible that the trumpet player playing with Armstrong were Johnny Coles or Idrees Sulieman, instead of Brown. This scenario is backed up by an interview carried out by Anthony Brown, to whom Golson points out that he was performing in Atlantic City up to Labor Day (September 7), that is, the end of the summer season. [37]


After Brown and Gryce detached themselves from the Tropicana Revue, Dameron’s situation at Club Paradise did not improve. Police activity in Atlantic City was rising as the summer went on, which heightened the risk for Dameron and other consumers of illegal substances. That uncertainty resolved on Sunday, August 30, when a large police raid resulted in more than fifty arrests in a number of nightclubs, including the Paradise. [38] Dameron and his bandmate Cecil Payne escaped this situation because, fearing the growing presence of the police, they scrambled to find substitutes for that weekend and left by separate ways for New York. [39] Kellice Swaggerty replaced Payne, and suffered the consequences; as for the pianist, it is not known who replaced Dameron. Later it would become known that Dameron had fled, not to return, with part of the musicians’ salaries and other money owed to the person in charge of making the band’s outfits. [40] Soon after these events, Dameron’s professional came to a long-lasting halt.

The summer of 1953 was a significant moment, both artistically and professionally for Dameron, but more so for Clifford Brown. He had just begun his career in jazz, and, from the beginning, he was surrounded by great talent. His early and short work with Dameron was a defining moment for several reasons: the pianist was a musical reference for Brown, and their connection between June and August 1953 yielded profits in terms of musical learning. During those months, Brown also set on a close friendship with some of his new colleagues, namely Gigi Gryce and Benny Golson. The chain of events took Brown and his two friends to Lionel Hampton’s orchestra, where they established close relationships with the also young Quincy Jones, Art Farmer, and Jimmy Cleveland. Later, his association with Hampton would take Brown to Europe, were he would remain performing on a daily basis from September to December 1953, a period when he also took part in recording sessions unauthorized by Hampton. After he left the vibraphonist’s orchestra, in December 1953, Brown kept evolving musically and soon became one of the top players from the new generation of musicians, especially after he formed the quintet with drummer Max Roach (1924–2007), the climax of his short artistic career.

At the same time, in the summer of 1953, Tadd Dameron had the chance to come back to the jazz scene and establish himself as a relevant pianist, composer, and arranger. But Dameron could not, or did not know how to, take advantage of the situation and put his musical development on a favorable track. His addiction to heroin greatly undermined his professionalism and pushed him back to the fringes of the jazz world. This artistic silence lasted until February 1956, when he reappeared in New York, bringing new compositions for a recording of the by then well-known Max Roach/Clifford Brown Quintet. Brown would die four months later, on June 27, 1956, in a car accident where the quintet pianist’s, Richie Powell, and his wife, Nancy Powell, also died. Dameron kept an erratic pace in his career, due to his addiction problems. He died of cancer on March 5, 1965.


As the first conclusion, it can be assumed that Tadd Dameron had Clifford Brown in mind at least one year before the June 1953 recording session. Thus, Idrees Sulieman’s account included in Cohen and Fitzgerald’s biography of Gigi Gryce, according to which it would have been Sulieman himself the one who introduced Brown to Dameron right before the recording session would be incorrect. Furthermore, Golson’s contributions to the interview with Harry Frost imply a deeper knowledge of Brown and his whereabouts by Golson than by Dameron. This opens up the possibility that it was Golson the link between Dameron and Brown.

As for the calendar and the sequence of events, the research herein reveals that the date for Brown, Gryce, and Golson joining Lionel Hampton’s orchestra proposed in previous studies was incoherent, namely due to the lack of information around it. Although we have only been able to narrow the date for the departure of Brown and Gryce with Hampton to the last week of July 1953, new data indicate that their sojourn with the Tropicana Revue was shorter than previously believed. However, in Golson’s case, we have been able to place his departure on August 10, 1953.

As for Golson’s account of the meeting between Louis Armstrong and Clifford Brown, the dates in it do not match with the known dates in both Armstrong’s and Hampton’s itineraries. It follows that this encounter did not happen, a possibility reinforced by the fact that such a relevant anecdote was only told for the first time more than sixty years later.


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  • Brown, Anthony. “Benny Golson.” Smithsonian Jazz Oral History Program, 2009: 39.
  • Catalano, Nick. Clifford Brown: The Life and Art of the Legendary Jazz Trumpeter. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
  • Chicago Tribune. March 23, 1952. Advertisement for Chris Powell performance at the Loop’s Capitol Lounge.
  • Cohen, Noal and Michael Fitzgerald. Rat Race Blues: The Musical Life of Gigi Gryce. Rockville, MD: Current Research in Jazz, 2014.
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  • [Concert announcement]. News and Observer. July 26, 1953.
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  • Conover, Willis. “Interview with Clifford Brown.” YouTube Video,
  • Feather, Leonard. “Clifford Brown — The New Dizzy.” Down Beat 21 no. 7 (1954): 15.
  • Frost, Harry. “Harry Frost Interview with Tadd Dameron and Benny Golson (Recorded 1952).” YouTube Video, 11:35, February 21, 2015.
  • Gitler, Ira. Liner notes to A Study in Dameronia, Prestige PRLP 159, 1953.
  • Gitler, Ira. Liner notes to Clifford Brown Memorial, Prestige PRLP 7055, 1956.
  • Glanden, Don. Brownie Speaks: A Video Documentary. Glanden Productions, 2014.
  • Golson, Benny and Jim Merod. Whisper Not: The Autobiography of Benny Golson. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2016.
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  • Jones, Quincy. Q: The Autobiography of Quincy Jones. New York: Doubleday, 2001.
  • Kamman, Leigh. “Tadd Dameron approx 1952 [actually 1953].” YouTube Video, 5:59, July 3, 2020.
  • Lees, Gene. “The Philadelphia Connection: part two.” Jazzletter 10 no. 6 (1991): 2.
  • Lord, Tom. The Jazz Discography Online. Chilliwack, BC: Lord Music Reference, Inc., 2022.
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  • Riccardi, Ricky and Fernando Ortiz de Urbina. Correspondence with the author. 2020.
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  • Schneeberger, Mario. Correspondence with the author. 2019.
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This article was originally published in Spanish in Jazz-hitz 04 (2021), pp.65–79. English translation by Fernando Ortiz de Urbina.


[1] Harry Frost, “Harry Frost Interview with Tadd Dameron and Benny Golson (Recorded 1952),” YouTube Video, 11:35, February 21, 2015.

[2] Chicago Tribune, March 23, 1952, 4.

[3] Frost, “Harry Frost Interview.”

[4] Leigh Kamman, “Tadd Dameron approx 1952 [actually 1953].” YouTube Video, 5:59, July 3, 2020.

[5] Daily News, June 10, 1953, 73.

[6] Noal Cohen and Michael Fitzgerald, Rat Race Blues: The Musical Life of Gigi Gryce (Rockville, MD: Current Research in Jazz, 2014), 79–80)

[7] Benny Golson and Jim Merod, Whisper Not: The Autobiography of Benny Golson (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2016), 90.

[8] Ira Gitler, Liner notes to A Study in Dameronia, Prestige PRLP 159, 1953.

[9] Ira Gitler, Liner notes to Clifford Brown Memorial, Prestige PRLP 7055, 1956.

[10] Leonard Feather, “Clifford Brown — The New Dizzy.” Down Beat 21 no. 7 (April 7, 1954), 15.

[11] Alan McMillan, “New York Is My Beat,” New York Age, July 11, 1953, 6.

[12] Golson and Merod, Whisper Not, 91.

[13] Paul Combs, Dameronia: The Life and Music of Tadd Dameron (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2012), 129.

[14] Cohen and Fitzgerald, Rat Race Blues, 82–83.

[15] Nick Catalano, Clifford Brown: The Life and Art of the Legendary Jazz Trumpeter (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 72.

[16] Jones misremembers the club hosting Tadd Dameron’s band. Club Harlem presented shows similar to those at Paradise, which would explain the confusion, since Jones met Clifford Brown and Benny Golson at Club Harlem.

[17] Quincy Jones, Q: The Autobiography of Quincy Jones (New York: Doubleday, 2001), 82.

[18] Jones, Q, 82.

[19] Golson and Merod, Whisper Not, 169.

[20] Don Glanden, Brownie Speaks: A Video Documentary (Glanden Productions, 2014), 19.

[21] Todd Bryant Weeks, “The World’s Most Perfect Drummer: The Musical Life of Charli Persip,” Allegro 110 no. 9 (September 2010).

[22] Golson and Merod, Whisper Not, 169.

[23] Gene Lees, “The Philadelphia Connection: part two,” Jazzletter 10 no. 6 (1991), 2.

[24] Combs, Dameronia, 129.

[25] N. Rémy and Marcel Fleiss, “Clifford Brown,” Jazz Hot, December 1953, 11.

[26] Dieter Salemann, “The Big Band Sun Never Sets — On the Road with Lionel Hampton.” Unpublished manuscript, 2020.

[27] Mario Schneeberger, “The European Tour of Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra, 1953: The Recorded Concerts.” Names & Numbers 64, 2013: 6.

[28] Daily Press, July 24, 1953, 12.

[29] Alan McMillan, “New York Is My Beat,” New York Age, August 8, 1953, 6.

[30] Sources: [Concert announcement], News and Observer, July 26, 1953, II: 12; Alan McMillan, “New York Is My Beat,” New York Age, August 1, 1953, 7.

[31] Golson and Merod, Whisper Not, 141.

[32] Golson and Merod, Whisper Not, 92–93.

[33] [Concert announcement], Philadelphia Inquirer, August 22, 1953, 8.

[34] Ricky Riccardi, Correspondence with the author and Fernando Ortiz de Urbina, 2020.

[35] [Concert announcement], Post Standard, August 9, 1953, 14.

[36] Lionel Hampton, “Show Biz Buzzes,” Pittsburgh Courier, August 8, 1953, 19.

[37] Anthony Brown, “Benny Golson,” Smithsonian Jazz Oral History Program, 2009, 39.

[38] “Raids at Shore Net 51 Persons” Record, August 31, 1953, 4.

[39] Combs, Dameronia, 129.

[40] Alan McMillan, “New York Is My Beat,” New York Age, October 3, 1953, 7.

Author Information: 
Joan Mar Sauqué (b. 1996, Garrigoles, Spain) is a professional trumpet player based in Barcelona. He is an alumnus of Joan Chamorro’s Sant Andreu Jazz Band and ESMUC (Catalonia College of Music), where he earned a BA and an MA in Music Performance. He has appeared on more than fifty jazz albums and has released three as a leader: Joan Chamorro presenta Joan Mar Sauqué, Vou onde o vento, and Gone with the Wind. As a composer, his works include “Tabacaria,” “A flor de pele,” and “Record de nit” on Colors & Shadows (Andrea Motis with WDR Big Band Cologne, 2021), with the latter also on Do outro lado do azul (Andrea Motis, Verve, 2019), and Sauqué’s own Vou onde o vento (Temps Record, 2021). As a researcher, his main area of study revolves around the generation of musicians who entered the jazz scene in the early 1950s, both on the East and the West coasts. He was recently appointed lecturer of jazz trumpet at ESMUC, where he is also pursuing a Ph.D. focused on the music and life of Clifford Brown. This is his first article.

In June 1953, Tadd Dameron organized a recording session with his new nonet, which included trumpeter Clifford Brown. In July, it started a summer engagement at the Paradise club in Atlantic City, but soon after, Brown went with Lionel Hampton because there were some problems in Dameron’s band. Although there are many interesting stories from this period, their collaboration lasted for a shorter time than has been assumed.

Clifford Brown, Tadd Dameron, Lionel Hampton, Gigi Gryce, Benny Golson, Paradise, Atlantic City, 1953

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