CD Reviews

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Webmaster: Len Mullenger

Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby




The Final Ray Brown Recording Session

TELARC 2CD-83515

Disc 1

    1. America The Beautiful
    2. Sunday
    3. Stella By Starlight
    4. Lined With A Groove
    5. Honeysuckle Rose
    6. Fried Pies
    7. You Are My Sunshine
    8. That’s All
    9. Ray Brown Suite Mvt. I, Mvt. II, Mvt. III
    10. Hello Girls

Ray Brown – Bass
Geoffrey Keezer – Piano
Karriem Riggins – Drums

Disc 2

    1. FSR
    2. Stardust
    3. Evidence
    4. Woogie Boogie
    5. In a Mellow Tone
    6. The Nearness of You
    7. Much In Common
    8. This Is Always
    9. Three By Four
    10. Down By the Riverside

Ray Brown with:
Monty Alexander, Benny Green, Geoffrey Keezer – Piano
John Clayton, Christian McBride – Bass
Gregory Hutchinson, Lewis Nash – Drums.

When bass giant Ray Brown passed away last summer at age 75; he left an enormous gap in the jazz world. Most people had regarded him as the number one bass player in jazz since the 1950’s and that’s an awful long time to be the top man! Fortunately he has left us a vast legacy of his recordings so it will be many years before he is forgotten. To be a member of his trio brought instant fame, hence the number of personnel changes over the years. As soon as he thought you were good enough to be part of his band, the other offers followed. This was to be the last recording with brilliant pianist Geoffrey Keezer, because he was leaving, but sadly it was the last for another reason.

Ray Brown had a sound on the bass like no one else and he could drive along a rhythm section in a way many imitated, but no one played as well. The wonderful tone and technique came from incredible natural ability and solid practice. A drummer I know was at the Coventry Theatre when Ray Brown was playing bass for singer Nellie Lutcher. At the time Ray used to practice for at least four hours every day, as well as working twice nightly! The story gives an insight into the man and helps to explain his amazing longevity as top man.

Disc One is everything you would expect from a Ray Brown Trio beautifully played standards, original compositions by Ray and tunes from other top jazz musicians. Fried Pies by Wes Montgomery is an example of the latter. The interesting and melodic Ray Brown Suite comes in three movements, he also wrote Lined With a Groove and Hello Girls. He is also responsible for all the arrangements. Geoffrey Keezer has to be one of the finest pianists on today’s jazz scene and although I have not heard Karriem Riggins before, I am mightily impressed.

Disc 2 consists of previously unissued tracks from Ray’s earlier recordings. FSR certainly gets things off to a good start in the company of Benny Green and Gregory Hutchinson. Likewise with Stardust in the same company, it makes you wonder why these tracks were not on the records the company originally released. The only explanation I can think of is that with musicians of this quality, there is an over sufficiency of riches from each session and something has to be left out. Ray’s work in both the theme statement and improvisations on Stardust is outstanding, he is featured throughout. Evidence, Much In Common, Three by Four and Down By the Riverside feature the amazing three bass trio with John Clayton and Christian McBride. On the face of it three bass players does not sound the most exciting combination, but believe me it works! The Nearness of you has Geoffrey Keezer back at the keyboard and is as eloquent as you would expect from listening to disc 1.

If you have bought Ray Brown records before, you’ll know the high quality of the product already, if you haven’t get this one, it’s a wonderful reminder of probably the best jazz bass player ever.

Don Mather






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