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Steve Brown

The first significant string bassist on record and one of the finest of the 1922-28 period, Steve Brown deserves to be renowned in jazz history books but is generally overlooked. His brother was the early New Orleans trombonist Tom Brown. Steve played tuba in his Tom's band early on before switching to string bass. He moved to Chicago in 1915, playing with Brown's Ragtime Band (his brother's group, one of the first jazz bands to be heard in Chicago), freelanced and was a member of the New Orleans Rhythm Kings in 1923 and also played with the Original Memphis Melody Boys and the Midway Dance Orchestra. While with Jean Goldkette's Orchestra (1924-27), Brown's simple but driving bass lines (usually heard prominently on the final choruses) were sometimes the most memorable aspect of the recordings, adding a great deal of excitement (and a jazz feel) to the dance-oriented music. As with many of the Goldkette sidemen, Brown became a member of Paul Whiteman's Orchestra later in 1927 but, unlike them, he rejoined Goldkette the following year, settling permanently in Detroit. Steve Brown remained active during the next few decades but, since he rarely left Detroit, he was largely forgotten outside of the city. Few realize that he recorded with Frank Gillis' Dixie Five (for Jazzology) in 1950. It is a pity that he was never rediscovered and persuaded to record his own sessions or to play with major jazzmen again.

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