Pete Brown: “Jim’s Idea”
Pete Brown (as); Jim Daddy Walker (eg); John Levy (b); Eddie Nicholson (d). Jazzette (February 1, 1945): “At last, Pete’s unique alto is given plenty of space, and he certainly makes the most of it. His humorous, trumpet-styled horn jumps like mad backed by John Levy’s powerful bass and Eddie Nicholson’s under-recorded drums.” The reviewer praises Jim Daddy Walker’s solo contributions (perhaps unwisely repeating Walker’s claim to have taught Charlie Christian) and concludes by noting that “‘Jim’s Idea’ is really ‘Temptation’ but has the best solos by both the stars” (p. 13).
Brown learned to play piano, trumpet, and saxophone while young. He played in New York with Bernie Robinson‘s orchestra in 1928, and played from 1928 to 1934 with Charlie Skeets. In 1937 he worked in the band of John Kirby; for several years in the 1930s he worked with Frankie Newton, who was also a member of Kirby’s band. Brown and Newton recorded often. In addition to recording under his own name, Brown also recorded as a session musician with Willie “The Lion” Smith, Jimmie Noone, Buster Bailey, Leonard Feather,Joe Marsala, and Maxine Sullivan in the 1930s. He worked on 52nd Street in New York in the 1940s, both as a sideman (with Slim Gaillard, among others) and as a bandleader; he was in Allen Eager‘s 52nd Street All-Stars in 1946.
In the 1950s Brown’s health began to fail, and he receded from full-time performance. He played with Joe Wilder (1954), Big Joe Turner (1956), Sammy Price, and Champion Jack Dupree, and appeared at the 1957 Newport Jazz Festival with Coleman Hawkins and Roy Eldridge. His last appearance was in 1960 with Dizzy Gillespie.
Brown was the teacher of Cecil Payne.