Ray Brown's latest release introduces Swedish guitarist Ulf Wakenius to a wider audience. Wakenius joins the bassist again for a set of familiar standards (he also appeared on Brown's 1995 Telarc release, Seven Steps To Heaven
). Showing a strong Wes Montgomery influence with embedded blues, Wakenius shares the spotlight with the trio, which now includes pianist Geoff Keezer as well as drummer Gregory Hutchinson.
Brown takes the solo line on "It's Only a Paper Moon," swinging as usual, before turning the familiar melody over to guitar and piano. He continues to feature his bass playing through the remainder of that familiar gem and on several other tracks. Brown, who turned 71 late last year, just keeps getting better and better. To introduce George Gershwin's "My One and Only," the bassist picks up the bow and gently weaves the melody before turning it over to his piano and guitar coworkers. Drummer Hutchinson is in fine form, stretching out on "The More I See You," trading fours elsewhere, and supplying the proper texture throughout. He picks up the brushes on "Honeysuckle Rose" to introduce Keezer's lead on the familiar melody. The 27-year-old pianist plays it slow and relaxed, showing a maturity that has come through his decade of experience, starting out with Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers, and continuing with his handful of releases as leader. The final track, Ray Brown's rhythmic and funky "Cakes' Blues," reveals the pianist's Monk-inspired playfulness and snappy experimentation.
"Yours Is My Heart Alone" is performed up-tempo with fire, showing the guitarist's blazing technique. With two releases as leader, Wakenius is yet another rising star among the many that Ray Brown has nurtured. "Watch What Happens" is done up-tempo with a swinging rhythm, comfortable melodic work from each member, and a cohesiveness that has always been there to mark Ray Brown's ensembles. Highly Recommended.