Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Andy Brown Makes a Direct Call

Chicago guitarist Andy Brown's third Delmark album "Direct Call," is his first with his own quartet of pianist Jeremy Kahn, bassist Joe Policastro and drummer Phil Gratteau that regularly play's at Andy's Jazz Club in downtown Chicago City (a fine room that I have been to in Windy City visits). After prior albums which included one shared with fellow guitarist Howard Arden and the other a solo effort, this one is a delightful set of swinging straight-ahead recording.

The recording's flavor is set with the bright opener, a piece of Ellingtonia with "The Jeep Is Jumpin'," with sparkling, lively guitar and a nice drum break. Contrast with this driving performance is provided by the lovely rendition of "Prisoner of Love," with some sublime fretwork as he squeezes every bit of feeling out of each note complemented by Kahn's short solo and fruity Arco bass from Policastro. Johnny Mandel's "El Cajon" features more scintillating Brown as well as Gratteau's nice brush work and followed by a solid performance of Hank Mobley's hard bop "Funk In Deep Freeze," with strong solos from Kahn and Policastro. The CD title comes from Django Reinhardt's "Appel Direct," with its evocation of busy city life and blistering guitar runs with more of Gratteau's deft brush work. In contrast, "Relaxing" comes from a classic Hank Garland album and showcases Policastro in addition to the leader's lovey lyricism here which is also heard on Jobim's "Ela É Carioca." There are lively renditions of Hoagy Carmichael's waltz, "One Day In May," and Joe Pass' "Catch Me." On both Brown displays his warm tone, with clean and deft playing and ability to take unexpected twists and turns.

A bouncy rendition of pianist John Coates Jr.'s blues, "Freak of the Week," closes this, straight-ahead album of swinging guitar music. Brown and his quartet play with taste and panache making "Direct Call" such a delight.

I received a review copy from Delmark Records. This review originally appeared in the July-August 2016 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 367). Here is a video of Andy Brown playing solo jazz guitar.


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