Paul Brown – Up Front
(GRP – 2004)
by Ricky Miller
With the release of Up Front, Paul Brown has risen to even higher heights. Already know as a composer and producer (four of Peter White’s albums), Brown steps into the star circle this time with all the chops, verve, and talent of someone who knows exactly what he’s doing. This release features guest appearances by Rick Braun, Boney James, Chock Loeb, Jeff Lorber and Peter White… Damned, it doesn’t get any smoother than that! Best track? Hard to say, but right now I’d pick Moment by Moment or Ain’t No Sunshine, where a soulful hip-hop groove underlies Withers’ classic love poem.
The CD has four cover tunes; James Taylor’s Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight, Bill Wither’s Ain’t No Sunshine, My Funny Valentine by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, and Moondance by Van Morrison, and each is pulled off in Brown’s interpretive, groovin’ style. “I wanted to do at least one real jazz standard,” Brown says of My Funny Valentine. “One day when Peter White was at my house we started playing around with two nylon string guitars and an electric. I loved the combo and feel it brings something different, a chill’ vibe, to this old chestnut.”
Brown added his own voice and vocal effects to Taylor’s hauntingly beautiful entreaty, Don¹t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight. The decision to include Moondance came from an informal poll of friends and family, says Brown. “Everyone loved it, including my parents. I’ve always tried to live up to their expectations and they were both blown away by it. My mom listens to this cut every day.”