Bassist Cameron Brown has had a long and illustrious career as a sideman. He has appeared on around 100 recordings, providing an anchor for luminaries such as Archie Shepp, Roswell Rudd and Beaver Harris, as well as the celebrated Don Pullen/George Adams Quartet. In 2003 Brown stepped out as a leader with Here and How!, culled from a 1997 Belgian tour with vocalist Sheila Jordan, trumpeter Dave Ballou, drummer Leon Parker, and legendary tenor saxophonist Dewey Redman guesting on three tracks. But one CD was not enough to present all the excellent material, so now there's Here and How! Volume 2!, which consists of the same group minus Redman.
The CD starts with the vibrant "Soft Seas," an engaging piece with a fresh, open tone and a nice, easy groove. Jordan scores on the lyrics and her effervescent scatting, Brown's bass is loose and funky, and Ballou's trumpet wonderfully crisp. Although Belgium is certainly a long way from the Caribbean, the group channels the feeling of the islands, creating a joyful, buoyant vibe. The quartet shines on Charlie Parker's "Confirmation," which includes lyrics by Jordan. It's always a pleasure to hear her gloriously malleable voice, and on this song she soars and bops over Brown's soulful swing. The CD ends with "Double Arc Jake," a delightful and effortless mix of genres, including calypso and Native American rhythms. The other songs explore a range of moods, including Brown's resonant "Baby Suite," Cole Porter's "You Do Something to Me," and "Medley," a heartfelt tribute to now-deceased musical comrades that combines compositions by Brown and Jordan.
This is a terrific quartet, a rich mix of prodigious gifts and decades of playing on jazz' frontlines. Hopefully Brown will step into a leadership more often.
Soft Seas (Back Home); Baby Suite; You Do Something to Me; Confirmation (Dreamboat); Medley: Mourning Song & Lullaby for George, Don, and Dannie; Double Arc Jake.
Sheila Jordan: vocals; Dave Ballou: trumpet, flugelhorn; Cameron Brown: bass; Leon Parker: drums.