Tom Browne

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About Tom Browne

Some may associate the name Tom Brown with collecting mushrooms in the wild; others see saxophones dancing before their eyes when they hear this name. There is something to be said for the latter Brown sax fixation, as each generation seems to have its own Tom Brown playing the saxophone, and any authentic recipe from the early days of recording history better conclude with instructions "Brown and serve." In the '20s there was not only Tom Brown the saxophonist, there was also a Tom Brown brand of saxophone and a popular piano roll entitled "Tom Brown's Saxophone March." Never mind that this composition by Stan Rhine, created in 1918, actually featured a cornet, not a saxophone and was a waltz, not a march. That can't be blamed on the saxophonist Tom Brown, who had nothing do with Rhine, other than seeing the river on a European tour. He was too busy backing up artists such a classic blues singers such as Ma Rainey, and his own groups such as Tom Brown & His Merry Minstrel Orchestra and the amazing Six Brown Brothers, an all saxophone group. Whether all six were related or not is unknown, but the group's publicity picture has been published far and wide, in a variety of circumstances, often without any information about who the performers are. The group is pictured in complete clown make-up, including conical hats, and are each in action mode with a saxophone -- what else? Brown's recording activities involving full bands were part of the low-budget sides known as "dimestore dance" records, and were often released under other names. This early saxophonist is sometimes confused with the New Orleans trombonist and bassist Tom Brown, not to mention saxophone playing guys named Tom Brown from other eras. It can be assumed that is a different Tom Brown playing sax with the Dave Matthews Band in the late '90s, since nobody in his band looks old enough to have been around when piano rolls were popular. ~ Eugene Chadbourne

New York, NY, United States of America