Ray Brown was an African-American musician, composer, bandleader, manager, music teacher and promoter. He became best known for his collaborative work with Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, Ella Fitzgerald, the Oscar Peterson Trio and Norman Granz' s Jazz at the Philharmonic. Over the course of his career, Brown received awards and accolades from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Jazz Hall of Fame, Down Beat and Playboy. Brown's papers document his professional music career from 1944 to 2002 and include music compositions and notes, publicity materials, photographs, and some recordings of his performances.
Scope and Contents:
The collection primarily documents the near sixty-year music career of upright bass player, bandleader, composer, and instructor Raymond Matthews (Ray) Brown and the various bands that he played with. The materials consist of music manuscripts, musical arrangements, published sheet music, photographs, programs, newspaper clippings, magazine articles, posters, audio and video recordings, honors and awards, correspondence, and publications. There is very little information about Brown's education, family or other aspects of his personal life.
The collection is arranged into six series.
Series 1: Musical Compositions and Notes, 1940s-2000s, undated
Series 2: Publicity Materials, 1950s-2002, undated
Series 3: Photographic Materials, 1940-2003, undated
Series 4: Personal Papers, 1954-2010
Series 5: Audiovisual Materials, 1978-1993, undated
Series 6: Performance Materials, 1964-1995, undated
Biographical / Historical:
Raymond Matthews Brown was an African American musician (double bass and cello) born on October 13, 1926 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He became known for his collaborative work with Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, Ella Fitzgerald (to whom he was married for a few years), and others. He was a composer, bandleader, manager, music teacher, and promoter. His professional music career lasted almost sixty years, dating from 1944 to 2002.
Brown's career began with a risky move to New York City in 1945, as a recent high school graduate, which resulted in his being hired on the spot to play with Dizzy Gillespie. Brown continued to play with Gillespie and others in various groups, recording songs such as "One Bass Hit" and "Night in Tunisia," before leaving in 1947. Brown married notable jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald that same year. He and Fitzgerald adopted a son, Raymond Matthew Brown Jr., and performed together in Norman Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic. Granz's tours, which Brown participated in from around 1949 to 1958, allowed him to travel and play all around the world. After being introduced to Oscar Peterson during a Philharmonic tour, Brown became a founding member of the Oscar Peterson Trio in 1952. His growing commitment to the group, along with other factors, led to Brown and Fitzgerald's divorce in 1953. However, the two would continued to collaborate and perform together, as friends and colleagues.
Brown worked with Peterson and other prominent jazz musicians to find the Advanced School of Contemporary Music in Toronto, which lasted from 1960 to 1965. He left the Peterson trio in the late 1960s and moved to Los Angeles to work as a composer, manager, educator, and publisher. In California, he worked for several movie and television show orchestras, became bassist for all of Frank Sinatra's television specials, and accompanied some noted singers, including Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, and Tony Bennett. He composed the theme song to Steve Allen's show, "Gravy Waltz," for which they both won a Grammy Award in 1964. He also managed the Modern Jazz Quartet, and Quincy Jones. In the 1980s, he formed the Ray Brown Trio with pianist Gene Harris, which lasted nine years. He also directed events such as the Monterey Jazz and Concord Summer Festivals, and consulted for the Hollywood Bowl Association. Brown continued to play and record with his trio and various other groups, such as the Oscar Peterson Trio and the Modern Jazz Quartet, for the rest of his life. He also published an instructional book for the bass, Ray Brown's Bass Method, through his own company in 1999. Over the course of his career, Brown received awards and accolades from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Jazz Hall of Fame, Down Beat, Playboy, and many more. Ray Brown died in 2002 at the age of seventy- five.
Materials in the Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Charismic Productions Records of Dizzy Gillespie NMAH.AC.0979
Ella Fitzgerald Papers NMAH.AC.0584
Duke Ellington Collection NMAH.AC.0301
Duke Ellington Oral History Project NMAH.AC.0368
Edward and Gaye Ellington Collection of Duke Ellington Materials NMAH.AC.0704
Ruth Ellington Collection of Duke Ellington Materials NMAH.AC.0415
Leslie Schinella Collection of Gene Krupa Materials NMAH.AC.1220
The collection was donated to the Archives Center in 2015 by Ray Brown's widow, Cecilia Brown.
Collection is open for research.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
The Juliette Elkon Hamelecourt papers measure 3.1 linear feet and date from 1911-2000, with the bulk of the records dating from 1940s-2000. The papers document Hamelecourt's career through resumes, personal business records, and writings, as well as general correspondence, printed material, scrapbooks, and photographs. The collection also contains a series of interviews conducted by Hamelecourt with artists at the Chelsea Hotel in New York.
Scope and Contents:
The Juliette Elkon Hamelecourt papers measure 3.1 linear feet and date from 1911-2000, with the bulk of the records dating from 1940s-2000. Biographical material consists of resumes, notes and other writings, as well as some personal business records such as contracts, price lists, loan agreements, and consignment lists. Correspondents include customers, museums, galleries, friends, publishers, and family members and discussions regard exhibitions, sales, food, and personal matters. The collection's printed material consists of clippings about Hamelecourt, Haiti, the Chelsea Hotel, and other artists; exhibition announcements, invitations, and catalogs; press releases, newsletters, and bulletins; articles written by Hamelecourt; reproductions of her artwork; and the book jacket from Hamelecourt's Edith Cavell: Heroic Nurse (1958). Hamelecourt's scrapbooks contain a variety of material such as correspondence with museums, galleries, and family members about her life and artwork as well as correspondence for historical and cultural research purposes; photographs and slides of Hamelecourt, artwork, family, and friends; printed material; sketches; drafts of her autobiography; and biographical papers pertaining to her marriage in 1969. The collection also contains a series of interviews conducted by Hamelecourt with artists at the Chelsea Hotel including Arman, Bettina, Bernard Childs, Rita Fetcher, Eugenie Gershoy, Adolph Cook Glassgold, Maxwell Gordon, and others.
The collection is arranged as 6 series.
Series 1: Biographical Material, 1972-1991 (Box 1; 7 folders)
Series 2: Correspondence, 1943-1999 (Box 1; 12 folders)
Series 3: Interviews with Chelsea Hotel Artists, circa 1980 (Box 1; 5 folders)
Series 4: Printed Material, 1943-2000 (Box 2; .8 linear feet)
Series 5: Scrapbooks, 1911-1999 (Box 2-3, OV 4; 1 linear foot)
Series 6: Photographs, 1940-1990s (Box 3; 5 folders)
Biographical / Historical:
Juliette Elkon Hamelecourt (1912-2002) was a fiber artist, tapissiere, and lecturer in Haiti, New York, and Cleveland. Hamelecourt was born in Belgium and spent her early years traveling with her father in England and China. Hamelecourt first learned needlework in China at the age of 10. After her father's death a couple of years later, she returned to live in Belgium with her grandparents where Hamelecourt worked alongside her grandmother who was a volunteer conservationist, repairing chasubles for the local clergy. Hamelecourt's early tapestries were ultimately lost or destroyed during World War II when she and her family moved to New York as refugees. Until the late 1950s she worked as a culinary editor, food consultant, and author of non-fiction, while needlework remained a hobby. Hamelecourt first visited Haiti reporting on French Caribbean cuisine in the late 1950s, and soon after moved there as a representative for the World Craft Council. In Haiti, she trained local women to embroider designs from their own environment and folklore. Hamelecourt moved to the Chelsea Hotel in New York around 1970, at this time she began receiving commissions for her work--some of which she sub-contracted to her Haitian embroiderers--and consulting as a designer. She established an embroidery workshop at the hotel with a grant from the New York Council on the Arts. Hamelecourt moved to Cleveland, Ohio in 1980.
The collection was donated by Juliette Hamelecourt, 1978-1997, and by the Juliette Elkon Hamelecourt estate via Leonard Spremulli in 2014.
This collection is open for research. Access to original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Researchers interested in accessing born-digital records or audiovisual recordings in this collection must use access copies. Contact References Services for more information.
Fiber artists -- New York (State) -- New York Search this
Juliette Elkon Hamelecourt papers, 1911-2000. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
The processing of this collection received Federal support from the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund, administered by the National Collections Program and the Smithsonian Collections Advisory Committee.
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. One letter from Paul Jenkins to Norman Bluhm, circa 1966, is ACCESS RESTRICTED; use requires written permission. Contact Reference Services for more information.
Entire (except oversize watercolors): Authorization to quote or reproduce for the purposes of publication requires written permission from Suzanne or Paul Jenkins, c/o Imago Terrae. Contact Reference Services for more information.
Paul Jenkins papers, circa 1915-2010. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.