When he died in 1975, Sandy Brown was working on an autobiography in which he had set out to describe, with the incisiveness and idiosyncratic wit which was already familiar to Listener readers of his columns on jazz and pop, the evolution of his talents against a background of Indian childhood, Edinburgh schooldays, and the rewards and frustrations of his twin careers of jazz musician and acoustic architect. Incomplete as it is, the section here provides from the inside a remarkable account of the unique combination of temperament and ability, at once composer and executant, which makes a jazz musician. It is also often extremely funny.
The portrait of an outstanding artist and extraordinary man is completed here by a selection from Sandy Brown's Listener articles and the correspondence with which he enlivened the in-trays of public figures, colleagues and friends.
2009 will see the eightieth anniversary of Sandy Brown's birth, the Faber Finds reissue of this title is timed to celebrate that.
Sandy Brown's life was tragically short. He was born in 1929 and died in 1975 aged only forty-six. During a television interview at the peak of his career, Sandy Brown was asked to choose between being the world's leading acoustician or its top jazz clarinettist. 'Excuse my arrogance', he replied, 'but do really believe I'm not the latter?' And he wasn't being arrogant. Miles Kington once described his clarinet playing as 'wild yet controlled, acid but generous, blues-drenched but passionate, spiky, ravishing....At his best has no serious rivals in the world'. As an acoustic architect he was in the top rank. He specialized in broadcasting and sound-recording studios and in the late 1960s and early 1970s was responsible for the architectural and acoustic design of many of London's studios, including those for the Beatles, Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones.