(Telarc – 2003)
by John Thompson
“It’s a ten! It’s better than a ten! Border line ‘lebbin (eleven)!! These words spoken in a movie called Gone Fishin’, fitting for this Telarc Jazz release of one of the most respected musicians in American music history, Bassist Ray Brown.
After World War II, Louis Armstrong was appointed by the U.S. State Department as musical ambassador to the world. After his death in 1971, the torch could have easily been passed to Bassist Ray Brown.
Ray Brown has been associated with Jazz recordings since the 1940’s recordings made with the Gillespie-Parker-Powell bebop group. Once married to Ella Fitzgerald, he played with many of the top jazz artists of all time, including Milt Jackson, Duke Ellington, and, for 15 years, Oscar Peterson. And now, on to the music.
First, $30.00 would not be too much to pay for this release. The quality of the recording is just beautiful, as are structures and ideas. Some of the music are Ray Brown’s final trio recordings. Words can express, though not fully, the great music on this release; however, many words are not needed. Joined by Karriem Riggins on drums and Geoffrey Keezer on piano, this is certainly a collector’s item, certainly in artistic value. From the opening, “America The Beautiful,” to covered songs, “Stella by Starlight,” “Honeysuckle Rose,” and a FUNKY version of “You Are My Sunshine,” and originals such as “Ray Brown Suite.” If, that’s not enough, then there is more. THIS IS A TWO CD SET!!!
Disc two contains music previously unreleased and there is no gimmick. The best part is that the music is not throw-away-quality. Instead it was recorded recently, both studio and live. The musicians on DISC TWO are amazing in its own right, with Brown, Monty Alexander(p), Benny Green(p), Keezer, drummers Gregory Hutchinson and Lewis Nash, and Bassists John Clayton and Christian McBride. Included are three tracks with all three bassists performing as a trio, and Duke Ellington’s “In A Mellow Tone” performed by McBride and Brown as a duo. You gotta hear it to believe it.
There is so much more that I can attempt to convey, but I’ll began to end it here. Ray Brown will be missed in the music world as well as the world in general. He, like the great Louis Armstrong, both were very ‘music friendly’ musicians, known for their smiles and well liked by many. I say thank you, Mr. Brown, for leaving this world such wonderful music and memories.
5 stars are my highest complement to a disc, therefore I give this TWO DISC release 12 stars. You do the math