Rich Brown: Abeng

Dave Wayne By

Sign in to view read count
Rich Brown: Abeng
In jazz, it's all about the company you keep. The press accompanying bass virtuoso Rich Brown's third album, Abeng, specifically calls out Roy Ayers and Weather Report as musical reference points. And while there's a breath of Ayers' silky R&B feel to the slinky "Promessa," and though Brown's use of his fretless electric bass as a lead voice favorably recalls Jaco Pastorius' tenure in Weather Report, Abeng is more intensely colored by the music of Brown's past and current associates, namely Rudresh Mahanthappa, Dapp Theory, and Steve Lehman (to name a few). These 21st Century influences are most evident in the brainy, plugged-in nu-fusion of "The Etymology of Ouch," "Achilles and the Tortoise," and "Mahishmatish." Drummer Larnell Lewis' playing on these tracks, and really throughout the entire album, is utterly astounding.

Unlike a lot of other young virtuosos, Brown is broad-minded enough to include a pair of ballads on Abeng. "This Lotus Ascension" recalls John Coltrane's "Naima" as much as it does Wayne Shorter's "A Remark You Made." Luis Deniz' impassioned alto and Robi Botos' rhapsodic piano are particularly effective here. "Parity of Esteem" is really only half a ballad, since it starts as one but slowly transforms into a sinister groover featuring an appealingly turbulent solo by Myriad3 pianist Chris Donnelly underpinned by Lewis' impossibly busy, yet pitch-perfect, drumming. Percussionist Rosendo Chendy Leon's congas and bata drums figure prominently on "Chant of the Exiled," a piece that recalls Steve Coleman's work with Afro-Cuban percussionists. "Promessa" takes some of these rhythmic archetypes and recasts them in an R&B-flavored fusion style, with the leader's lush electric bass way out front.

With Abeng Rich Brown has crafted a definitive musical statement that ties together a lot of seemingly disparate strands of the Black cultural experience in a creative and personal way. Highly recommended.

Track Listing

Mahishmatish; Window Seat; Chant of the Exiled (Abeng); Promessa; This Lotus Ascension; The Etymology of Ouch; Parity of Esteem (An Illustration of Imbalance); Achilles & the Tortoise.


Rich Brown: electric bass, clavé (4); Luis Deniz: alto saxophone; Kevin Turcotte: trumpet (3, 6); Kelly Jefferson: tenor saxophone (1); Chris Donnelly: piano (1, 6- 8); Robi Botos: piano (2-5), Fender Rhodes (2); Larnell Lewis: drums; Rosendo Chendy Leon: percussion (3).

Album information

Title: Abeng | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Self Produced

Post a comment about this album


Shop Amazon


Read Data Lords
Data Lords
Maria Schneider Orchestra
Read Sleepy Town
Sleepy Town
Jamie Pregnell
Read Momento
Dave Milligan
Read Peace
Spirit Fingers
Read Warmer Than Blood
Warmer Than Blood
Chris Montague
Read Off Brand
Off Brand
Collage Project
Read Expanding Light
Expanding Light
Whit Dickey Trio
Read Iron Starlet
Iron Starlet
Connie Han

All About Jazz needs your support

All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.