One of the great swing trombonists, Lawrence Brown tends to be underrated because he spent so much of his career with Duke Ellington's Orchestra. Actually, Brown's initial solos with Ellington upset some of Duke's fans because it was feared that his virtuosity did not fit into a band where primitive effects and mutes were liberally utilized. But over time, Brown carved out his own place in the Ellington legacy.
Lawrence Brown learned piano, violin, and tuba before deciding to stick to the trombone. He recorded with Paul Howard's Quality Serenaders (1929-1930) and Louis Armstrong (with Les Hite's Orchestra in 1930) in Los Angeles before joining Ellington in 1932, staying until 1951 when he left to join Johnny Hodges' new small group. After 1955, Brown became a studio musician in New York, but then spent 1960-1970 back with Ellington (where he reluctantly had to play some solos with a plunger mute) before retiring. Although he only led two albums of his own (a 1955-1956 outing for Clef and 1965's Inspired Abandon for Impulse), Brown was well-featured on many recordings with Ellington through the years; "The Sheik of Araby" (1932) and "Rose of the Rio Grande" (1938) were favorites. ~ Scott Yanow