Sunday, January 28, 2007

Charles Brown's Legend lives on

I had the pleasure to see Charles Brown a number of times after first seeing him at the New York club Tramps in the Summer of 1982 I believe. Charles Brown was a remarkable pianist and a major influence on many performers. The very first album by him I had the pleasure to own was Legend on ABC-Bluesway that came out in 1969 or 1970. I have had it several times on vinyl as this session with the late Earl Hooker as well as Mel Brown on guitar was an absoulute delight. It was reissued on CD in 1993 or 1994 and here is the review I did for Jazz & Blues Report at the time of reissue. Unfortunately this is out of print and may only be obtained at a premium.

MCA has reissued Charles Brown’s Bluesway album, Legend, that featured the late Earl Hooker, along with Mel Brown on guitar, and Red Holloway on tenor saxophone, on their One Way Out label. One is treated to somewhat lengthy, relaxed jams on such Brown classics as Drifting Blues and Merry Christmas Baby, both with incredibly tasty guitar from Earl Hooker, warm vocal duets with Dottie Ivory on I Want to Go Home, and All Is Forgiven (which Brown claimed in the notes to have written for this session), a high-spirited instrumental The Combination, and a couple of other songs that Brown and group really hit it off with. While these are extended performances, nowhere does one feel that the performances are too long. Its a warm, friendly session with Charles trying to bring back those good old days of Dinah Washington, Nat King Cole, B.B. King, Big Joe Turner, and last but not least, Charles Brown, near the end of I Want to Go Home. This album should have revived Brown’s career in the early seventies. Unfortunately it didn’t, but with his well deserved success of recent years, it certainly is nice to have it available again. Recommended.

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