Ray Brown was a musician (double bass and cello) known for his collaborative work with Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, Ella Fitzgerald (to whom he was married for a few years) and others. He also accompanied some noted singers, including Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, and Tony Bennett. He was also a composer, bandleader, manager, music teacher and promoter. He, Fitzgerald and others got involved with Norman Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic tours during this period. In the early 1950's, Mr. Brown reunited with colleagues from the Gillespie band, Milt Jackson, John Lewis and Kenny Clarke, to form the original Modern Jazz Quartet. From 1951 to 1966, he played in the Oscar Peterson Trio. In the 1960s, he moved to Los Angeles and worked as a studio musician and with several television orchestras and did some movie work. He composed the theme song to Steve Allen's show. He also continued to record and in the 1980s, formed a trio with pianist Gene Harris, which lasted nine years. It was during this time that he began working on instructional books on music.
This collection documents the career of upright bass player, bandleader, composer, and instructor Raymond Mathews (Ray) Brown and that of various musical groups he was associated with. It contains letters, photographs, music manuscripts, musical arrangements, audio and video recordings, honors and awards, programs, clippings, sheet music, and posters.
Ray Brown Papers, ca. 1950-2002, Archives Center, National Museum of American History