WordPress 4.4 Named for the Tragically Hep Trumpeter Clifford Brown

WordPress 4.4, released on Tuesday, is named for one of the most promising and tragic figures in jazz – Clifford Brown.

Born in 1930 in Wilmington, Delaware, to a musical family, Clifford Brown was a trumpet prodigy who started gigging around Philadelphia at the age of 18. His mentors were Fats Navarro, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. Not bad company to keep. And, Brown went to college – untypical for black jazz artists of the time – at Maryland State University.

Brown had everything going for him until 1950 when he was in a car accident in which his friends were killed and he was left in a body cast for months. His shoulder’s dislocation and the associated pain made him unable to pick up his trumpet, and his career was set back for a year.

Although being devastated by his injuries as well as the news of his idol Fats Navarro’s untimely death at age 26, Brown retained the strength and determination instilled by his tight family and community to continue playing.

Brown made his first recording in 1952 with an R&B band, Chris Powell’s Blue Flames. The next year he toured Europe with Lionel Hampton’s band. In 1954, he recorded with Art Blakey – pre Jazz Messengers – before teaming up with the great drummer, Max Roach to lead a band that included Harold Land and Sonny Rollins.

Here is one of the only film clips of Clifford Brown, an appearance on the Soupy Sayles Variety Hour.

According to allmusic.com,

“Clifford Brown had a fat warm tone, a bop-ish style quite reminiscent of the equally ill-fated Fats Navarro, and a mature improvising approach; he was as inventive on melodic ballads as he was on rapid jams.

At the age of 25, Brown was considered up there with Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis in terms of technique, but he had none of the drug or alcohol habits his contemporaries embraced. He was a rare, cleaning-living jazz musician.

On a trip to Chicago with the pianist Richie Powell and his wife, she was driving on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and lost control of the car in the rain, killing all three of them.

It’s heartbreaking to think of what Clifford Brown might have accomplished if his life had not been cut so tragically short.

Where seat belts?

I think it’s safe to say that if Brown and his friends had been wearing seat belts, he would have survived the accident and gone on to possibly revolutionize jazz.

At the time of Brown’s death, however, the automobile seat belt was fairly new technology in the U.S and offered only by Nash Motor Company – as an option.

It was not until 1968 that federal law required all vehicles – besides buses – to be fitted with seat belts for each seat (thank you Ralph Nader) making seat belts standard equipment in every car. But it wasn’t until the 1980s that states began enforcing laws to force people to wear seat belts!

Think of all the people who would be alive today – Clifford Brown included – if seat belts had come standard in every car since they first rolled off the assembly lines.

WordPress 4.4 “Clifford”

How does Clifford Brown’s tragic story relate to WordPress 4.4? In the tragic sense, nothing. In the virtuoso sense, everything.

oEmbed sharing

WordPress 4.4 features expanded support for oEmbed, which allows you to embed more content than before and to curate content from around the Web. This is a very cool, very progressive advance, a lot like Clifford Brown’s sound.

When I tested this feature on this site, I found it conflicted with my Calls to Action plugin, which gives me the CTA you see at the end of each of my posts.

wordpress 4.4 oEmbed

I’m not giving up that plugin just yet, so I’ll show you how the oEmbed of the WordPress.org news page looks on my wine site.

According to WordPress, what makes the oEmbed technology so powerful is how it allows for collaborative blogging. Users can embed, then respond to posts on their own sites, making WordPress publishing a more open conversation.

Kind of like call and response.

Responsive images

Speaking of responsive, WordPress 4.4 promises even better resizing of images to fit the device.

clifford brown & max roach

Not much more to say about that, so here’s a shot of Clifford Brown and Max Roach.

Twenty Sixteen Theme

WordPress 4.4 comes with a new theme called Twenty Sixteen.

wordpress twenty sixteen
It’s a minimalist design with five color variations, optional sidebar, and custom features such as header styles. Like almost every theme these days, Twenty Sixteen is fully responsive.

Taxonomy control

If you want to add icons and colors to your categories, you can code them in.


I can’t begin to comment on how the REST API will make your life better, So, I’ll just quote WordPress.org about it.

Infrastructure for the REST API has been integrated into core, marking a new era in developing with WordPress. The REST API gives developers an easy way to build and extend RESTful APIs on top of WordPress.

Infrastructure is the first part of a multi-stage rollout for the REST API. Inclusion of core endpoints is targeted for an upcoming release. To get a sneak peek of the core endpoints, and for more information on extending the REST API, check out the official WordPress REST API plugin.

No version is perfect

Have you updated your site to 4.4? Did it cause any problems? Or are you one to wait for the initial bugs to get worked out? Please comment about it below.


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