Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Maurice Brown's HipBob Blend Delights

Trumpeter Maurice Brown, according to his website biography was “Raised in south Chicago, Maurice was awarded a full music scholarship to Northern Illinois University upon graduating from Hillcrest High School. After winning first place in the esteemed National Miles Davis Trumpet Competition, Maurice found new flavor in the heart of Louisiana, …” He continued he studies at Southern University where he was part of the Jazz Program led by the late clarinet player and composer, Alvin Batiste. While living in New Orleans, he recorded his debut CD, “Hip to Bop,” and established himself in the New Orleans scene, playing regularly at Snug Harbor. He also has done a wide variety of session work working with hip hop artists, queen of soul, and contemporary jazz including recordings by Musiq Soulchild, Aretha Franklin, Roy Hargrove, Kendra Ross, Ernest Dawkins, Fred Anderson and George Freeman. Currently he lives in New York, and has just issued his second CD as a leader, “The Cycle of Love,” (Brown Records).

Derek Douget, on tenor with Derek, was on Maurice’s earlier CD and also studied in new Orleans although under the University of New Orleans Jazz Program under Ellis Marsalis’ leadership. The rest of the quartet is pianist Chris Rob, drummer Joe Blaxx and bassist Solomon Dorsey, none of whom were on the earlier album. Of this album, Brown notes that the music here is his interpretation of the “different stages we go through in our quest for true happiness.” He does elaborate for each tune here, but I will let you discover his comments for himself.

Drummer Blaxx opens “Fly By Night,” with a hip hop groove, before Ron lays down a chord and Dorsey starts a bass figure with the two coming to state the melody with a stop-time stutter added. It exhibits some of the playfulness and melodic qualities that characterize this recording. Douget and Brown both have marvelous tones, with Brown having a bright, lyrical sound but certainly get dig in and get a stinging tone as necessary. Pianist Rob also exhibits a lyrical tone to his playing. “Good Vibrations,” illustrates Brown’s ability to write material which should appeal to those with more of a smooth jazz tastes, but his playing here certainly will not put to asleep those whose tastes are more straight-ahead.

Its hard not to tap one’s feet or simply smile listening to Brown. One of my favorite tracks is “Time Tick Tock,” built around a Blaxx’s clock-like groove with Rob’s repeated piano riff that echoes the groove as the two horns engage in a call and response with each other before Brown takes off on his solo which elaborates on some of the melodic figures he had been passing back and forth with Douget. “Lovely,” is a ballad with some elegant sounding playing with Brown adding a mute for his solo. Echoes of the Miles Davis Quintet of the mid-sixties can be heard by the performance, “The Connection,” and the disc closes on the upbeat “Reflections.”

The Cycle of Love” is allruing and I have listened to it repeatedly the past few weeks. Shortly after receiving my review copy, I learned he was playing at the Kennedy Center’s K.C. Jazz Club backed by the quintet on the disc with the exception of a different bassist. There, before an audience that included Dr. Billy Taylor and pianist George Cables, Brown played a number of tunes from this, several from “Hip to Bop,” and gave the Errol Garner classic “Misty” a superb interpretation. Watching him perform, one sees the exhilaration he has in performing as he will stand on the side dancing along, swaying, twirling his trumpet and encouraging his band members. The performance certainly delighted all there.

The Cycle of Love”is available from cdbaby.com, Louisiana Music Factory, and other sources as well as can be downloaded. Maurice Brown will be performing the first weekend at this year’s New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, but both and Derek Douget will be performing in a variety of groups and likely also at some evening appearances at clubs while JazzFest is taking place. I certainly hope to cross their paths while I am in New Orleans for the second weekend of JazzFest. His website is www.mauricebrown.net.

For purposes of FTC regulations, i received my review copy from Brown Records.

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