R&B legend Charles Brown passed away in 1999 at the age of seventy-seven as his career represented something of a paradox. The pianist/vocalist/songwriter enjoyed success with a string of hits in the 40’s then seemed to drift into obscurity until his talents were rediscovered in the 90’s as he also became the recipient of the “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation. Subsequent tours with singer Bonnie Raitt and a few blues recordings rekindled awareness of his enormous talents and with Blues and Other Love Songs which was recorded in 1992 and released here for “32 Jazz”, Brown performs a series of originals and standards. And along with the estimable saxophonist Houston Person and a tight-knit rhythm section, this newly released recording effectively showcases or highlights Brown’s soulful ruminations as an endearing vocalist and stylish pianist!
Brown’s soothing vocals, understated elegance and crafty blues oriented piano work shines on his solo rendition of the standard “Who’s Beating My Time” while his upbeat demeanor, poise and expressive vocalizations surge forward on, “I Put Myself Together”. With this piece, saxophonist Houston Person establishes his presence towards the final minutes as he performs bright soulful lines to compliment Danny Caron’s softly stated chord voicings. The musicians turn in an affable, mid-tempo swing version of “Mint Julep” as Person pursues rich lyricism sparked by gritty lines atop Brown’s rollicking and rolling piano work while the pianist gives Monk’s classic, “Round Midnight” the stride piano and R&B treatment in altogether animated fashion.
Like so many of his peers and predecessors, Charles Brown enjoyed somewhat of a resurgence later on in life yet his influence and significant legacy remains documented thanks to fine recordings such as Blues and Other Love Songs.