The title pretty much says it all. These 10 new compositions and well-chosen covers play like a scrapbook of pianist/composer Brown’s favorite sounds.
There’s the daredevil, highly technical ensemble swinging that sometimes seems like the signature of his alma mater, Berklee School of Music. There’s the propulsive bounce of the Fender Rhodes electric piano that will always feel like a trapdoor to the 1970s, that decade when Herbie Hancock, Joe Zawinul, Chick Corea and a few others nailed it and made it a permanent part of the jazz soundscape. When an instrumental homage to a friend or mentor might be too abstract or subtle for the unschooled listener, Brown gives new works like “Carter Country” or “The Thing About George Coleman.” Brown’s new compositions are nicely arranged and fully formed, not as piano-centric as you might imagine. Longtime collaborators vibraphonist Steve Nelson, trumpeter Bill Mobley, and bassist Essiet Okon Essiet get plenty of time out front. Brown composes to his own strengths, so his original material outshines the group’s treatment of a couple Wynton Marsalis and Joe Henderson pieces, fine as they are. This is Brown’s first recording to feature his oldest son, drummer Kenny Brown, and the magically soulful West African guitarist Lionel Loueke. The younger Brown is extremely versatile, restrained and confident.
It’s a lively, lovingly played examination of the many different things jazz can be. And if you didn’t see it elsewhere on the site, save the date: On Friday, March 6, as part of the Knoxville Jazz Festival, Donald Brown will lead a quartet in a concert performance at the Square Room, a too-rare opportunity to see and hear him without the distraction and competition of restaurant clatter.