Jack Brownlow On Jazz Profiles

The latest post in Steve Cerra’s Jazz Profiles concerns first-rate musicians who are well known only where they live. Sometimes, Steve points out, that is because they don’t get a break. Sometimes, it is because they want to stay put.

“Every town has one,” he writes. “Whether it’s Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Reno or Seattle. Somewhere in these cities, there is an exceptional Jazz musician who is mainly known only to those familiar with the local Jazz scene.”

Cerra’s case-in-point is the late pianist Jack Brownlow (pictured). Here is some of what he wrote:

People who can play the music, flow with it. Their phrasing is in line with the tempo, the new melodies that they super-impose over the chord structures are interesting and inventive and they bring a sense of command and completion to the process of creating Jazz.

These qualities help bring some Jazz musicians to national, if not, international prominence. Deservedly so. It’s not easy to play this stuff.

We buy their recordings, read articles about them in the Jazz press and attend their concerts and club dates.

But throughout the history of Jazz, be it in the form of what was referred to as “territory bands,” or local legends who never made it to the big time or recorded, or those who only played Jazz as a hobby, word-of-mouth communication somehow managed to inform us of the startling brilliance of these locally-based musicians.

Such was the case with pianist Jack Brownlow who for many years was one of the most highly regarded Jazz musicians in the greater-Seattle area.

For Cerra’s account of the first time he heard Brownlow and to watch the video presentation he created to accompany one of the pianist’s most lyrical recordings, visit Jazz Profiles.

If you enter “Jack Brownlow” in the Rifftides search box at the top of the page, you will find a number of posts about him or mentioning him. This one has a story portraying the Bruno anyone who ever knew him will recognize.

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  1. steve sherman says

    Speaking of first rate hometown musicians-do you know Bootsie Barnes of Philadelphia? He grew up with the Heath brothers and largely remained in Philadelphia. I think he provided the music for the Bill Cosby show at some point. Cosby was another childhood friend. I used to hear him every week at a place called Ortliebs in Philly which was a hub of jazz activity. Their regular house trio for many years was Shirley Scott, Arthur Harper, and Micky Roker. Bootsie is a wonderful tenor player, and players like Bobby Watson used to come down to play alongside him all the time.

    It would be nice to see some writing about him.

    • Doug Ramsey says

      Rifftides readers who know about Bootsie Barnes are welcome to add to Mr. Sherman’s recollections.

  2. SeptemberintheRain says

    Thanks for reminding us of this great panist, Doug. Surely he would have deserved to be better known; on the other hand, I couldn’t discover him now.