Norman Brown – Just Chillin’
(Warner – 2002)
by Raymond Redmond
After four high-energy albums and years of almost constant touring, Norman Brown’s latest offering, Just Chillin’, is more of a laid-back project. The first two tracks, “The Feelin I Get” and “Just Chillin” are strong instrumentals, mixing Brown’s trademark guitar sound with well arranged horn accompaniment and lush arrangements. “Night Drive”, featuring Rick Braun is a sure smooth-jazz hit and the standout track on this release. Miki Howard puts in some nice vocal work on the sweet “Not Like You Do” as does newcomer Debbie Nova on the up tempo “Won’t You Stay”.
“Dancin in the House” is another fast paced piece with Benson-esque scatting and Brown’s fine fingering combined with a latin-influenced keyboard line. This is more of the old Norman Brown here. “In My Life” is another tastefully crafted song, combining a nice vocal chorus with Brown’s creative musicianship. The cover of Janet Jackson’s “Lets Wait a While” is subtly performed and presented, doing it a quiet justice. Overall this is one of the better crafted smooth jazz releases to come out this year. Norman obviously took his time and “Waited a While” before releasing this one. Don’t you wait to go get a copy.