Instruments: Saxes, Clarinet
Date of Birth: 1909
Place of Birth: Birmingham, Alabama
Date of Death:June, 1967

Worked in Chicago with Tiny Parham, Erskine Tate, etc.; recorded with Jabbo Smith (1929). With Grant Moore's Band (1930-31), toured briefly with Louis Armstrong. During the late 1930s worked in New York with Snub Mosley and Eddie Durham (1940), then in Chicago with Walter Fuller and bassist Dallas Bartley. In California with Benny Carter (1943), with Louis Armstrong Big Band (1944), occasionally with Duke Ellington from October 1944 until spring 1945. With Sy Oliver in late 1946-47, regularly with Snub Mosley from 1948 (including U.S.O. tour of Britain in 1952). Worked on and off with Lucky Millinder in the 1950s, with Cab Calloway in 1959. With Milton Larkin in the 1960s.

from Jothan Callins paper on The Birmingham Jazz Community

Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame

 

 

An Alabama saxophonist who came out of the Chicago jazz scene, Willard Brown had by the late '20s already established credentials with leaders such as Tiny Parham, Erskine Tate and Jabbo Smith. He folded into the reed section of Grant Moore's Bound in the early '30s, but had a brief stint with Louis Armstrong during this period that added lumps of sugar to his discographical coffee cup. New York City became his home base by the end of this decade, with band relationships including Snub Mosley and Eddie Durham.

In the early '40s this player seemed to move around quite a bit. He was back in Chicago playing with Walter Fuller and the fine bassist Dallas Bartley but in 1943 he was out in California with a superb aggregation fronted by fellow reedman, composer and arranger Benny Carter. Another collaboration with the illustrious Armstrong took place in due course, this time a big band. In the mid '40s Brown was in and out of the Duke Ellington band, then moved on to Sy Oliver's group through 1947 before rejoining Mosley. The latter group toured England in 1952. Brown also played with Lucky Millinder in the early '50s, later in the decade wigging out as he had never before as part of Cab Calloway's big band. His last important gig was in the early '60s with Milton Larkin. ~ Eugene Chadbourne, All Music Guide

 

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