Album: Soular Energy (1984). Title: Sweet Georgia Brown. Raymond Matthews Brown (October 13, 1926 – July 2, 2002) was an influential American jazz double bassist and cellist, known for extensive work with Oscar Peterson and Ella Fitzgerald among many others.
Best known as a contributing member of the bebop jazz movement and a member of the Oscar Peterson Trio, jazz bassist Ray Brown performed with jazz giants from Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker to his wife Ella Fitzgerald. Despite Fitzgerald’s short-lived marriage to Brown (1947-1953), she remained a lifelong friend and musical associate. A disciple of the 1940s Oscar Pettiford school of jazz bass, Brown developed an individual style renown for its tastefully executed rhythmic lines within the context of ensemble accompaniment. His talent reflects such breadth and diversity that he was the most cited musician in the first edition of the Penguin Guide to Recorded Jazz (1992). Unlike many of the founders of bebop bass, Brown still performs and has earned a successful living as a studio musician, record producer, and nightclub owner.
Raymond Matthews Brown was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on October 13, 1926. He took piano lessons at age eight and gained knowledge of the keyboard through memorizing the recordings of Fats Waller. A member of the high school orchestra, he soon found himself overwhelmed by the number of pianists among his classmates. "There must have been 14 piano players in it. And 12 of them were chicks who could read anything on sight," explained Brown in Jazz Masters of the Forties. In the book Oscar Peterson: The Will to Swing, Brown revealed the main reason for ending his study of piano: "I just couldn’t find my way on it. It just didn’t give me what I wanted." Soon afterward, Brown, unable to afford a trombone, switched to bass, an instrument provided by the school’s music department.
From 1946 to 1951 he played in Gillespie's band. Brown, along with the vibraphonist Milt Jackson, drummer Kenny Clarke, and the pianist John Lewis formed the rhythm section of the Gillespie band, and their work together eventually led to the creation of the Modern Jazz Quartet.
Around this time Brown was also appearing in Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts, organised by Norman Granz. It was at these concerts that he met the jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald, whom he married in 1947. Together they adopted a child born to Fitzgerald's half-sister Francis, whom they christened Ray Brown, Jr. Fitzgerald and Brown divorced in 1952.
It was at a Jazz at the Philharmonic concert in 1949 that Brown first worked with the jazz pianist Oscar Peterson, in whose trio Brown would play from 1951 to 1966. After leaving the Trio he became a manager and promoter as well as a performer.