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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rob Brown: Unknown Skies

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Each year alto saxophonist Rob Brown brings a project to NYC's annual Vision Festival. Among the most raw and compelling was this stellar trio, featuring pianist Craig Taborn and drummer Nasheet Waits, which graced the 2009 gathering but had gone unrecorded, until now. Fortunately the voguish Paris-based Rogue Art imprint has issued a fine live recording from the 2010 Sons d'hiver festival in that city, which regularly presents highlights from the New York jamboree. His chosen format echoes Cecil Taylor's classic unit from the 1960s and early '70s, and Alexander von Schlippenbach's subsequent long-lasting threesome with saxophonist Evan ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Vision Festival 2010 - Opening Night

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Prologue | Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 Opening Invocation, The Blues Escaped, Stomp It, Rob Brown New Quartet, Broken Flowers, In Order To SurviveVision FestivalAbrons Arts Center23 June 2010 After three days of activity across various downtown venues, the Vision Festival returned to the well-appointed Abrons Arts Center for the core part of the proceedings. Everything a small festival might need was on hand. Main theater with comfortable seating and air conditioning? Check. Smaller performance area which increases ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Oles Brothers with Rob Brown: Live at SJC

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Bartlomiej Brat Oleś (drums) and Marcin Oleś (double bass) have a simple adage when it comes to their music: to remain faithful to their convictions and create music that is open and requires both technical mastery and individual artistry. They have remained true to that whether playing as a Duo (Fenommedia, 2008) or with other musicians like Herb Robertson on Live at Alchemia (Not Two Records, 2007). Interaction and empathy are the twin factors that open the door and capture the imagination as they take off from well composed notations into realms that are both earthy and ethereal. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Oles Brothers with Rob Brown: Live At SJC

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It's funny how certain jazz players find other kindred spirits to play with. Where would Ornette Coleman have been if he hadn't found Charlie Haden? Or McCoy Tyner without John Coltrane? Like minds always seem to find and sometimes track down each other. Such is the case with the Polish brothers Marcin Oles (bass) and Bartlomiej Brat Oles (drums) recording with American saxophonist Rob Brown.

The brothers' previous outings have included collaborations with Kenny Werner Shadows (Fenomedia, 2006), Theo Jorgensmann Alchemia (hatOLOGY, 2007), Herb Robertson Live at Alchemia (Nottwo Records, 2007), and Ken Vandermark Ideas (Nottwo Records, 2005). ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rob Brown Trio: Live at Firehouse 12

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Alto saxophonist Rob Brown has the lean physique and worried forehead of a typical free jazz improviser, but through his associations with the leading forces of the downtown scene (including Matthew Shipp and, most fruitfully, William Parker) he has positioned himself as an in-demand sideman as well as a creative and ear-catching leader. He has been a mainstay in the groups put together by Parker and has arguably done his most intensely impressive work with the Quartet, as well as bringing a distinctive voice to the Little Huey Orchestra. Brown's art continues to move forward. Nothing could ...

INTERVIEWS

Rob Brown: No More "Mr. Avant Garde"

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Alto saxophonist Rob Brown would feature highly on most people's lists of modern purveyors of reed magic. Leading New York avant-garde bassist William Parker has featured Brown for the last fifteen years, and Brown has been associated, both as sideman and leader, with other well-known modern jazz musicians including Matthew Shipp, Joe Morris and Whit Dickey.

A recent example is the group Right Hemisphere. He has also recorded and worked alongside such luminaries as Cecil Taylor, Anthony Braxton, Bill Dixon, Butch Morris, Reggie Workman, Henry Grimes, Roy Campbell and Karl Berger. Brown has also been building ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rob Brown: Crown Trunk Root Funk

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One-off assemblages can be hit or miss affairs, but so powerful was saxophonist Rob Brown's ensemble at the 2006 Vision Festival that it was deemed essential that they were brought into the studio. With his carefully controlled use of harmonics and split tones, allied to a quicksilver inventiveness, Brown is one of the most instantly recognizable voices in free jazz today. In pianist Craig Taborn Brown has found a like-minded spirit averse to the obvious route. Taborn's electronics contribute one novel addition, but more significant is Detroit drummer Gerald Cleaver putting the funk, albeit fractured and abstracted, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rob Brown: Crown Trunk Root Funk

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The function of liner notes is to bring the listener closer to the music. They need not be very broad in scope. Some of the most straightforward liner notes are often the most useful. For they do not impose layers of unnecessary skin to peel away in order to reach their point. After all, the music is the point. Rob Brown wrote the liner notes for his quartet's recording Crown Trunk Root Funk. In their humility and simplicity lies a precious key for unlocking what is to be heard.

Brown's quartet has a traditional structure: piano, bass, drums, and alto ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rob Brown Ensemble: Crown Trunk Root Funk

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After its successful premier at the 2006 Vision Festival, alto saxophonist Rob Brown took his newest ensemble into the studio to record Crown Trunk Root Funk, his first recording as a leader for AUM Fidelity. A formidable blend of funky abstraction, angular post-bop and dark impressionism, it offers an expansive view of Brown's adventurous aesthetic.

A two decade plus veteran of New York City's Downtown scene, Brown employs three of today's most in-demand sidemen in this quartet. Bandleader, composer and bassist William Parker shares a performing history with Brown dating back twenty years. Drummer Gerald Cleaver has been ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rob Brown Trio: Sounds

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The title, Sounds, might oversimplify the concept for Rob Brown's latest trio. Or maybe it allows for the multiple possibilities.

You see it is not just jazz sounds that are made here, nor is it only modern or avant-garde music. Brown is stretching the elastic of music-making, just like Ornette Coleman and Albert Ayler once did.

The only difference is that in the 21st century, to quote the band Jane's Addiction, “nothing's shocking anymore.

The saxophonist first gained attention for his work with pianist Matthew Shipp and later in the larger ensembles of bassist William Parker. His outward ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rob Brown Trio: Sounds

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Alto saxophonist Rob Brown has been a fixture on New York's avant-garde scene for over two decades. Working closely with Matthew Shipp, William Parker, Joe Morris and Whit Dickey, Brown has appeared on over fifty albums, and more than a dozen as a leader or co-leader.

Typically working in a piano-less quartet format on his own projects, Brown sought a more exotic combination of instruments to help expand his sound palette on Sounds. Eschewing the traditional rhythmic fulcrum of acoustic bass and trap set, he opts instead for a more esoteric variation: cello and percussion.

Cellist ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Rob Brown Trio: Sounds

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Sounds is as much a mission statement as a name for the debut CD by the Rob Brown Trio. Matching his alto saxophone with Daniel Levin's cello and Satoshi Takeishi's Japanese Taiko percussion, Brown frees himself from the expectations of the standard sax-plus-rhythm trio. The textural range of the instrumentation, particularly the exotic percussion and the music's spaciousness of form allows for non-idiomatic exploration that is not strictly free improvisation. Eschewing the fire-breathing energy that often typifies sax-led trios, Brown's music unhurriedly respires with focus on the collectively created atmosphere. A percussive flourish introduces “Archaeology, part 1 ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Joe Morris: Beautiful Existence and Rob Brown: Radiant Pools

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Improvised music is based on conviction, the belief in the “rightness of what one is playing, a sort of forward-moving directive of sound hinging in part on the ability of one's work to stand equally with the entire history of music (to paraphrase art critic Michael Fried). But improvisation, though certainly a defining action, is also a hotbed of diffuse activity and ambiguity (i.e., can you define the blues?).

This is not a pejorative statement in any sense; rather, the apex of improvised music is found in that work which seems to have no beginning or end, an infinite moment ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Roscoe Mitchell: Turn / Hamid Drake / Bindu; Rob Brown / Radiant Pools

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The best American jazz artists have often had to look overseas for support. European labels have long proved to be reliable homes for adventurous music. From the looks of its first three releases, the French label Rogue Art might become another safe house.

Roscoe Mitchell Turn Rogue Art 2005

The most exciting of the label's inaugural issues is a new title from Art Ensemble of Chicago founder Roscoe Mitchell. In itself that is always a notable event, but this new group (with Mitchell's longtime rhythm section Jaribu Shahid and Tani Tabal on bass and ...



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