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Charles Brown

How many blues artists remained at the absolute top of their game after more than a half-century of performing? One immediately leaps to mind: Charles Brown. His incredible piano skills and laid-back vocal delivery remained every bit as mesmerizing at the end of his life as they were way back in 1945, when his groundbreaking waxing of "Drifting Blues" with guitarist Johnny Moore's Three Blazers invented an entirely new blues genre for sophisticated postwar revelers: an ultra-mellow, jazz-inflected sound perfect for sipping a late-night libation in some hip after-hours joint. Brown's smooth trio format was tremendously influential to a host of high-profile disciples -- Ray Charles, Amos Milburn, and Floyd Dixon, for starters.

Classically trained on the ivories, Brown earned a degree in chemistry before moving to Los Angeles in 1943. He soon hooked up with the Blazers (Moore and bassist Eddie Williams), who modeled themselves after Nat "King" Cole's trio but retained a bluesier tone within their ballad-heavy repertoire. With Brown installed as their vocalist and pianist, the Blazers' "Drifting Blues" for Philo Records remained on Billboard's R&B charts for 23 weeks, peaking at number two. Follow-ups for Exclusive and Modern (including "Sunny Road," "So Long," "New Orleans Blues," and their immortal 1947 Yuletide classic "Merry Christmas Baby") kept the Blazers around the top of the R&B listings from 1946 through 1948, until Brown opted to go solo.

If anything, Brown was even more successful on his own. Signing with Eddie Mesner's Aladdin logo, he visited the R&B Top Ten no less than ten times from 1949 to 1952, retaining his mournful, sparsely arranged sound for the smashes "Get Yourself Another Fool," the chart-topping "Trouble Blues" and "Black Night," and "Hard Times." Despite a 1956 jaunt to New Orleans to record with the Cosimo's studio band, Brown's mellow approach failed to make the transition to rock's brasher rhythms, and he soon faded from national prominence (other than when his second holiday perennial, "Please Come Home for Christmas," hit in 1960 on the King label). Occasionally recording without causing much of a stir during the '60s and '70s, Brown began to regroup by the mid-'80s. One More for the Road, a set cut in 1986 for the short-lived Blue Side logo, announced to anyone within earshot that Brown's talents hadn't diminished at all while he was gone (the set later re-emerged on Alligator). Bonnie Raitt took an encouraging interest in Brown's comeback bid, bringing him on tour with her as her opening act (thus introducing the blues vet to a whole new generation or two of fans). His recording career took off too, with a series of albums for Bullseye Blues (the first entry, 1990's All My Life, is especially pleasing), and more recently, a disc for Verve.

In his last years, Brown finally received at least a portion of the recognition he deserved for so long as a genuine rhythm and blues pioneer. But the suave, elegant Brown was by no means a relic, as anyone who witnessed his thundering boogie piano style will gladly attest; he returned in 1998 with So Goes Love before dying on January 21, 1999. ~ Bill Dahl, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

dont like yhis sing
There should be a drink named after him because he is smooth and grooves. My charles brown would include whiskey but feel free to substitute
super cool, slick watts with chops . an educated man with soul
gad195
Love his style, BUt because his name is Charles Brown does not make all his songs Christmas music as he keeps coming up on my Christmas holiday station. Better then Metallica I guess
Charles Brown is so smooth. I only wish I had the pleasure to see him in person.
The great Ray Charles wanted to be like Charles B what's that tell you. Dennis 007
i love this song it bring back a lot of remembers.
As linda says Christmas is not the same without hearing his
'' Merry Christmas Baby '' I remember lastening to this when i was 13 yrs old and loved it then.
charles Brown is the best of the best i listen to his Merry Christmas Baby in the middle of summer the man is great in all aspects of music that is in my world i love him dearly im darnell little,ancho r a g e , a l a s k a
Xmas time is not complete without sweet Charles Brown crooning in the background. Ooh, can he tickle those ivories and make those savory sounds! Great memories w/him hanging out at old Libby Bowl Ojai Blues Festival. Anyone remember those days?
i love his christmas songs, especially please come home for christmas
Oldie but definitely a Goodie !
Such skill and just plain beautiful music.
zebratopk
Charles Brown is one of the best of simple, sweet and sexy musicians. He has so much music and I could sit around (and do:)) for hours listening to his blues.
when i was growing up i always look forward to listern to charles brown holiday songs and i still look forward to these same songs every holiday and im 36 yrs. ,and now my kids like this same music.
bcbconsultin g
One of the most amazing concerts I ever attended. Watching Charles Brown at dusk near the water - with his small & amazing band. A standup bass, drums, Charles on piano. I fell in love with an old man!
ccrow
the great from 1940s', if you had the pleasure of seeing him live - what a great talent
starami8
velvet - wonderful
starami8
velvet jazz - coool
starami8
Tickle those ivories! Smoothe & soothing voice.
silverblueau s t i n
Fabulous! Sanguine vocals, killer piano skills!
... Envy, envy!
please add ruthbrown to my list jane christie
ruth brown is one of my favorites
The one and only Charles Brown was the beginning and end of the velvet smooth blues. Originally from Texas, his Texas blues roots was heard in every song he sang going way back to the late 1040's. Another great blues artist that does Texas grand!
This is one of the reasons I named this "Charles Brown Radio." Texas produced its fair share of blues and jazz musicians and Charles Brown is an excellent example of the genre.
If you are a Charles Brown fan, it don't get any better than this!

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