Sweet and Lovely (Space Time Records)
With only a couple of original songs spicing up a roster of standards and pop songs given over to the classic theme of amore, in all its shades of splendor and melancholy, pianist Keith Brown's first record under his own name would seem destined for cocktail jazz purgatory. But Brown, a fleet, facile stylist and the son of esteemed pianist/composer Donald Brown, has inherited his father's gift for lacing straightforward melodies with bracing spikes of often revelatory harmonic invention. His sidemen, too, distinguish themselves ably, particularly saxophonist Baptiste Herbin, whose astonishingly fluid alto and soprano solos are the highlights of several tracks. All told, Sweet and Lovely lives up to its billing, yet it's still adventurous enough to keep you guessing, even when you think you know what's coming next.