Sunday, March 13, 2005

Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown - Timeless (Hightone, 2004)

Hearing this set, which was recorded live and in the studio, it's hard to believe that Brown is nearly eighty years old and in poor health. His music is a fascinating mix of blues, jazz and hillbilly country and he refuses to be pidgeon-holed into any particular genre. On this set, his skills on both guitar and violin and guitar are on display along with some vocals and even a little bit of storytelling!

The setlist is fascinating in its variety, everything from "Unchained Melody" (!) to Ellington and Brown's own compositions. Brown's scraping fiddle takes center stage on the country numbers like "Dark Edge of the Hallway" and "Tennessee Blues" while his bluesy guitar is featured on the jazz standards "Satin Doll" and "Mercy Mercy Mercy." The most interesting track on the album is a version of Brown's classic tune "The Drifter," prefaced by a spoken introduction where the man traces the history of the Universe in five minutes!

Brown is one of the most unique musicians in America, one who operates freely in several different genres of music and blending them into something that was all his own. This is a very good disc that make for an excellent introduction to Brown unique vision of American music.

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