Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

208

Maurice Brown: Hip to Bop

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Sometimes it's not a good thing when young artists release their own records before they have the opportunity to pay some dues. They may possess admirable technique but have yet to develop a rounded conception that gives their music focus. A precocious trumpeter who, at the age of 23, has already played with a wide range of artists including Ramsey Lewis, Lenny White, Ellis Marsalis, Mulgrew Miller and Stefon Harris, Maurice Brown certainly cannot be accused of not having been exposed to a breadth of styles and ideas. Still, as fine a trumpet player as he is, his début release, Hip to Bop , suffers from a certain musical schizophrenia that time may ultimately fashion into a more cogent direction.

There is nothing wrong with eclecticism; artists like Wallace Roney demonstrate it all the time, with records that reveal a range of influences. But whereas Roney finds a way to merge his diverse influences into a statement with a singular focus, Brown is still searching for ways to tie together his varied interests. "Rapture," with its rapid tempo shifts and starts and stops, has its roots in Miles Davis' mid-'60s quintet. No sooner does Brown establish a rapid-fire technique, more rooted in Freddie Hubbard than Davis, then he serves up "It's a New Day," a piece of soul jazz that feels like a complete non sequitur. "Mi Amor" is a tender ballad that could easily fit in Dexter Gordon's oeuvre. "Conceptions," with its snaking theme and hard-swinging solo section, comes straight out of '60s-era Blue Note hard bop. And the title track, with its wah-wah trumpet, is an up-tempo piece of greasy soul-blues that would easily have fit into the Brecker Brothers of the mid-to-late '70s.

Through it all, Brown demonstrates a technical aptitude that is blended with a remarkably mature approach—as capable as he is of virtuoso displays, he is equally aware of the need for space; his solo on the closing ballad, "A Call For All Angels," is a richly subtle piece of lyrical improvisation on a composition that is clearly influenced by mid-'60s Herbie Hancock.

But through it all one can't help but feel like Brown is dabbling—a little bit from here, a little bit from there—rather than shaping a specific direction that says, "This is who I am." All players are the sum total of their influences and Brown, with a style that combines staggering technique with economy and melodicism, is clearly forging a playing voice that, in time, will no doubt become more distinctive and personal. But as important as it is to hone a unique approach, it is also critical to evolve a convincing musical context within which to portray it. Brown may not be quite there, but Hip to Bop certainly paints a picture of an emerging artist with all the raw ingredients; now all he needs to do is find the right way to blend them.

Track Listing: Rapture; It's a New Day; Mi Amor; Conceptions; Anazao; Hip to Bop; Look Ma No Hands; A Call for All Angels

Personnel: Maurice Brown (trumpet, wah-wah), Derek Douget (tenor saxophone), Doug Bickel (piano, B-3, wurly), John Stewart (bass), Adonis Rose (drums), Bill Summers (percussion on "It's a New Day")

Title: Hip to Bop | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Brown Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Acknowledgement CD/LP/Track Review Acknowledgement
by Don Phipps
Published: November 23, 2017
Read Lessons And Fairytales CD/LP/Track Review Lessons And Fairytales
by Jerome Wilson
Published: November 23, 2017
Read The Child in Me CD/LP/Track Review The Child in Me
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: November 23, 2017
Read The Way Home CD/LP/Track Review The Way Home
by Joe Gatto
Published: November 23, 2017
Read Shadow Work CD/LP/Track Review Shadow Work
by Phil Barnes
Published: November 22, 2017
Read Veterans of Jazz CD/LP/Track Review Veterans of Jazz
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 22, 2017
Read "The Child in Me" CD/LP/Track Review The Child in Me
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: November 23, 2017
Read "Jambú" CD/LP/Track Review Jambú
by Joe Gatto
Published: February 13, 2017
Read "Where the Blue Begins" CD/LP/Track Review Where the Blue Begins
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 7, 2017
Read "Rímur" CD/LP/Track Review Rímur
by Henning Bolte
Published: March 1, 2017
Read "Little Giant Still Life" CD/LP/Track Review Little Giant Still Life
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 15, 2017
Read "Sinatra & Jobim @ 50" CD/LP/Track Review Sinatra & Jobim @ 50
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: August 30, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Please support out sponsor