Lawrence Brown (jazz trombonist)

Lawrence Brown (August 3, 1907 – September 5, 1988) was a jazz trombonist from California who achieved recognition with the Duke Ellington orchestra.[1] Brown worked throughout his career as a session musician, as well as recording his own solo efforts.

Lawrence Brown
Lawrence Brown in Duke Ellington's orchestra (1943)
Background information
Born(1907-08-03)August 3, 1907
Kansas United States
DiedSeptember 5, 1988(1988-09-05) (aged 81)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Occupation(s)Musician, Composer
Years active1932–70
LabelsClef Records, Impulse! Records
Associated actsDuke Ellington, Johnny Hodges

Early life

Lawrence Brown was born on August 3, 1907, in Lawrence, Kansas. When Brown was about six or seven years old in 1914 his family moved to Oakland, California. He began playing the violin at a young age, but quickly grew tired of it and turned to playing the tuba in his school’s band.

Brown came from a musical background – his father was a preacher at the African American Episcopal church, where he often sang as a part of his sermons. Brown’s mother played the organ and the piano. Brown discovered the trombone while doing janitorial work at his father’s church. He stated that he wanted to replicate the sound of cello on a trombone.


Brown began his career with Charlie Echols and Paul Howard. In 1932 Brown joined Duke Ellington. His great technical command of the instrument, with its "creamy tone, neurotic vibrato and range" was featured with Ellington's band every year in compositions such as "Blue Cellophane" and "Golden Cress."

He left Ellington's band in 1951 to join a band led by former Ellington sideman Johnny Hodges, where he stayed until 1955. After leaving Hodges, Brown took a position for five years with CBS as a session player. In 1960, he rejoined Ellington and stayed with him until 1970. After leaving Ellington's band the second time at the age of 63, Brown quit performing completely.

He fulfilled many roles in the Ellington Orchestra—as a balladeer, technical soloist, and section leader. His highly melodic ballad playing as well as his fast technical style inspired trombonists from Tommy Dorsey to Bill Harris.

Brown was married to actress Fredi Washington. He died in Los Angeles, California.

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Lawrence Brown (jazz trombonist) among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.[2]


With Leonard Bernstein

  • What is Jazz? (Columbia, 1956)

With Duke Ellington

With Johnny Hodges

With Rex Stewart and Cootie Williams


  1. Allmusic biography
  2. Rosen, Jody (June 25, 2019). "Here Are Hundreds More Artists Whose Tapes Were Destroyed in the UMG Fire". The New York Times. Retrieved June 28, 2019.


  1. Steinman, Michael. "Beautifully Polished Brass". Jazz Lives. Retrieved May 21, 2015.
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