Sunday, January 26, 2014

Ari Brown - Groove Awakening (Delmark, 2013)

Chicago is such a strong city for music that even some great players can drift under the radar. Ari Brown plays tenor and soprano saxophone (occasionally at the same time) as a leader infrequently but toured with Elvin Jones among other jazz luminaries. On this album, he is supported by Kirk Brown on piano, Yosef Ben Israel on bass, Avreeayl Ra on drums and Dr. Cuz on percussion. “One For Ken” opens the album and introduces Brown’s sound on tenor saxophone, a steely strong Dexter Gordon like sound, gutsy and classic. He uses the double horn simultaneous form on “Groove Awakening.” This type of playing is most commonly associated with Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and like his playing this technique is no gimmick but completely in the service of the music. “Veda’s Dance” shows Brown building in a rippling muscular tone accented by hand percussion and concluding with some multi-horn playing. His arrangement of John Coltrane’s “Lonnie’s Lament” is quite unusual with Kirk Brown’s piano developing something of a Caribbean/reggae groove. This makes the music sound a little less somber than the original but keeping true to the melody. He takes a little more traditional approach to Duke Ellington’s “In a Sentimental Mood” with a tempered solo saxophone opening, and then the band comes in for a stately summation of the melody. The improvisation moves along in a lyrical fashion with a fine bass solo and saxophone solo. “Wayne’s Trane” gives you an indication in the title of the music to follow. The musicians develop a deep mid-tempo groove, with Brown’s dark hewn and sweeping saxophone leading the way, digging deep and pushing into caustic territory before making way for a nice piano, bass and drums section aided by hypnotic percussion. This was a solid album, Brown has a fine traditionally minded sound, but he takes a few liberties and makes the music sound his own. Groove Awakening - amazon.com

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