362

Ray Brown: Ray Brown Trio: Live At Starbucks

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Ray Brown: Ray Brown Trio: Live At Starbucks In the very near future, you’re going to hear a lot of the Ray Brown Trio in the Starbucks nearest you. That’s because the renowned coffee shop has elevated its interest in jazz from the realm of background music to CD production. No doubt, you’ll be able to buy Ray Brown Trio: Live At Starbucks with your cappucino in city, airport and suburban mall coffeeshops nationwide. Maybe what Ken Burns Jazz did for Wynton Marsalis’ public profile, Starbucks will do for Ray Brown’s. Or so one would hope.

If so, that would be a good thing.

For Ray Brown Trio: Live At Starbucks is truly a distinctive jazz trio CD. If Starbucks is going to establish a jazz ambiance within its premises, then it might as well promote one of the true legends of the genre...and expose customers to the highest quality of music.

According to the liner notes, Brown, Keezer and Riggins mixed with the guests before the performance—and of course drank the venue’s dark and pungent brew—in the center of the coffee universe, the Starbucks store at 23rd and Jackson in Seattle.

Maybe it was the cameraderie. Maybe it was dampness of the Seattle climate. Maybe it was the caffeine. Whatever it was, Ray Brown Trio: Live At Starbucks delivers one of those performances wherein everything clicks: The audience is tuned in to the jazz, and the musicians are in a groove that lasts throughout every number.

The CD starts with one of Brown’s compositions, “Up There,” which describes the pace of the tune, as all three musicians commence to thrill the crowd at the drop of a hat. Each of the three trades measures to introduce themselves. Keezer takes the theme beyond its head-bobbing call-and-response nature into bass-clef rumblings. Riggins is right on with his crisp hi-hat work and his melodic approach to taking the trades. And Brown pushes his own group with his full-bodied pulse and confident mastery of the music developed from a lifetime of legendary performances.

Ray Brown Trio: Live At Starbucks ends with another of Brown’s compositions too—appropriately enough, “Starbucks Blues.” I’ll listen for it the next time I need a fresh cup to wake me up some sleepy morning. Now that will capture my attention! Starting out with one of Brown’s inimitable bass solos, rumbling and strolling and beseeching for two and a half minutes, eventually his blues settles down into a 6/8 evocation more of a swaying “The St. Louis Blues” than a jazz blues.

However, it’s the middle of the CD that makes Ray Brown Trio: Live At Starbucks one that an enthusiast of Brown’s music should buy anywhere that good music is sold: coffee shop, music store, department store, bookstore, wherever. Keezer’s work on Duke Ellington’s “Mainstem” captures the audience’s imagination from the very beginning—and the tune continues to develop an increasingly irresistable groove as Riggins makes known the high degree of his talent as well, cymbals a-shiver and bass drums a-rumble. “Mainstem” leads into the ominous throb starting “Love You Madly,” which turns out to be a Ray Brown solo, his jaunty development of the tune inspiring finger snapping from Keezer and Riggins. “Caravan” follows the lead of Keezer’s middle- and lower-register vamp to deliver Brown’s bow work before the trio takes off in a bright 4/4 flight. As if wowing the crowd with a tremendous interpretation of the song weren’t enough, Keezer throws in everything from rapid stride references to “My Favorite Things” to clavé to Tynerisms.

Drawing in the crowd with the appeal of the ballad, Keezer develops “This House Is Empty Now” as a rubato vehicle of arpeggiated flow and gorgeous modulations before settling into the rhythm of “I Should Care,” where Brown and Riggins join in with a quarter-noted swing. J. J. Johnson’s exquisite ballad, “Lament,” receives similar treatment, Brown in this case substituting for Keezer in the introduction. As one of tunes deserving much more attention and airplay, its inspiring changes suggesting an infinite number of interpretations, “Lament” receives an underplayed rendition without undue drama but with the confident respect that is its due.

Keezer and Riggins were subordinated on Brown’s last CD, Ray Brown: Some Of My Best Friends Are...The Trumpet Players because of its concentration on guests like Clark Terry and Roy Hargrove. However, Ray Brown Trio: Live At Starbucks makes it known that his trio is one that deserves the highest degree of attention. The CD proves that Keezer, in particular, keeps growing and developing a deeper talent of greater technical sophistication. And one would hope that the CD proves that coffee drinkers of the world will have an appetite for great jazz.

http://www.telarc.com

Track Listing: Up There, When I Fall In Love, Brown Bossa, Our Delight, Lament, Mainstem, Love You Madly, Caravan, This House Is Empty/I Should Care, Lester Leaps In, Starbucks Blues

Personnel: Ray Brown, bass; Geoff Keezer, piano; Karriem Riggins, drums

Title: Ray Brown Trio: Live At Starbucks | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Telarc Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Developing Story CD/LP/Track Review Developing Story
by Edward Blanco
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Lantern CD/LP/Track Review Lantern
by John Kelman
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall) CD/LP/Track Review Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall)
by Phil Barnes
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Unification CD/LP/Track Review Unification
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Crossing CD/LP/Track Review Crossing
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Unit[e] CD/LP/Track Review Unit[e]
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 25, 2017
Read "Radio Luboyna" CD/LP/Track Review Radio Luboyna
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: April 9, 2017
Read "This Is Nate Najar" CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Live at the Blue Whale" CD/LP/Track Review Live at the Blue Whale
by Phillip Woolever
Published: May 9, 2017
Read "Blues I Felt" CD/LP/Track Review Blues I Felt
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 15, 2017
Read "Möbius Strip" CD/LP/Track Review Möbius Strip
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 11, 2017
Read "Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs" CD/LP/Track Review Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 27, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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