LaRue Brown Watson
When I met Clifford, I was a music snob. I was writing my thesis in which I was trying to prove that jazz was not a form of art. Clifford and I debated the subject often. Can you believe I actually told Clifford Brown that he could not play? I even strongly recommended that he stick to ballads and the Raphael Mendez songs that he used to practice breathing and fingering. Clifford was patient with me but stuck to his belief in the music. In order to break the stalemate, I decided to take him to visit my music (classical of course) teacher. I was sure he could convince Clifford that the fast paced, dissonant racket was not music. When my teacher answered the door, he said, "Is this who I think it is?" He hugged Clifford and took him inside.
I was left standing on the porch...crushed!! When I went inside, I asked my man if he knew of Clifford and what he thought of his playing. His answer was "This man is a musical genius! You don't understand the complexity of this music. Your music is formal, structured, this music is pure soul, free flowing." In a state of total disbelief, I started to really listen to the music. I asked Clifford questions and finally I was able to hear MUSIC. I also discovered that Max had not been referring to Clifford's physical beauty. He had recognized the beauty that dwelled within and exuded from him.
Another shocker happened during the time Clifford was educating me. We found that we not only respected each other and shared a valuable friendship, we were also in love.
One starlit evening we went to Santa Monica Beach. Clifford was playing with the sounds of the Pacific Ocean accompanying him. The music was lovely! The tune was one that he had just written and I was hearing for the first time. He called it "LaRue". He asked me to marry his music and him.
Liner notes, The Complete Blue Note and Pacific Jazz Recordings of Clifford Brown (Mosiac Records)
Selected portions reprinted courtesy of the Clifford Brown Jazz Foundation
Content ©1997-2007, Greg Morey, all rights reserved, unless noted otherwise. Photo (upper-left) by Herman Leonard.