129

Clarence : American Music, Texas Style

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count
At the Gate. 1997 experienced the release of Gate Swings (Verve 314 537 617-2). This disc was a powerful disc by the then 72 year old Brown, brimming with genre-crushing jazz, blues, zydeco, pop...Oh Gosh, the whole apple pie. This has been Clarence Brown’s mantra: “the whole ball of wax”. Brown is joined by a BIG band that includes Wessell “Warmdaddy” Anderson and Nicholas Payton. The charts and conduct fall under the able hands of Wardell Quezergue. The results are simply some of the best music one can throw his or her entertainment dollar at.

Gate Swings. On Gate Swings, Brown anoints Ellington (“Take The ‘A’ Train) and Benny Goodman (“Flying Home”) with the unmistakable homage of the Deep South. On American Music, Texas Style he continues this sacrament with a dandy “Don’t Get Around Much Any More” and “Things Ain’t What They Used to Be”. Charlie Parker’s “Hootie Blues” is pulled through a filter of Western Swing with a wink to Basie. “Swamp Ghost” is a stop-time blues punctuated with Brown’s soul-filled guitar playing as well as a superb reed solo from altoist Eric Demmer. His cover of Percy Mayfield’s “Strange Things Happen” is down right spooky. Twelve bars rarely have sounded so good.

The Real Deal. Brian Setzer, in an interview with Terry Gross on National Public Radio’s Fresh Air asserted that his fronting a big band with an electric guitar was something quite novel. Clarence Brown (and B.B. King, for that matter), predated Setzer by decades making real Swing, not this homogenized, for-bourgeoisie-consumption, bland-so-it-won’t-scare-a-popcorn-fart-out-of-your-mom excuse for jazz (though, having said that, it is very fun and even has some whiff of honesty). It is fortunate that Clarence Brown’s music exists so we will at least have some idea where this craze-of-the-moment comes from.

Topic. I see Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown as being a member of a rarified group of artists that included Ray Charles, Ry Cooder, etc. “Keepers of the flame”, these musicians continually frame established musical styles with the structure of other established styles. They accomplish the difficult task of not merely producing an acceptable or novel homogenization of genres, but of showing what is common to all genres in a Q-Beam manner. American Music Texas Style is Ellington seen from humid south Texas juke joints and Charlie Parker from the Louisiana Delta. Honor Mr. Brown.


Track Listing: Rock My Blues Away; Half Steppin

Personnel: Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown: Vocals, Guitar, Fiddle, Viola; Wardell Quezergue: Conductor, Arranger; Harold Floyd, Bass; Joe Krown: Keyboards; David Peters: Drums; Eric Demmer, Ray More, Wessell Anderson: Alto Saxophones; Tony Dagradi, Eric Traub: Tenor Saxophones; Tony Frigro: Baritone Saxophone, Peter McEachern, John Touchy, Steve Suter, Jerry Verges: Trombones; Nicholas Payton, Barney Floyd, Bobby Campo: Trumpets; Kaye Dorian: Vocals.

Title: American Music, Texas Style | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Blue Thumb Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Slægt CD/LP/Track Review Slægt
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 24, 2017
Read An Eye on the Future CD/LP/Track Review An Eye on the Future
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 24, 2017
Read Cherry ‎– Sakura CD/LP/Track Review Cherry ‎– Sakura
by John Sharpe
Published: September 24, 2017
Read Blow, Strike & Touch CD/LP/Track Review Blow, Strike & Touch
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 24, 2017
Read Elusive CD/LP/Track Review Elusive
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 23, 2017
Read Transitions CD/LP/Track Review Transitions
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: September 23, 2017
Read "The Dead Man" CD/LP/Track Review The Dead Man
by James Nadal
Published: April 4, 2017
Read "Meet Me At Minton's" CD/LP/Track Review Meet Me At Minton's
by James Nadal
Published: June 17, 2017
Read "Kind Of New 2: Blue Is Paris" CD/LP/Track Review Kind Of New 2: Blue Is Paris
by Jeff Winbush
Published: August 3, 2017
Read "Live in Tokyo" CD/LP/Track Review Live in Tokyo
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: November 18, 2016
Read "Landed in Brooklyn" CD/LP/Track Review Landed in Brooklyn
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 3, 2017
Read "Moment Frozen" CD/LP/Track Review Moment Frozen
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 19, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.