These days, the boundaries of what is and what isn't jazz are being blurred by a number of factors, including but not limited to: changes of instrumentation, the break from traditional 2 and 4 on the cymbal, absence of a walking bass-line, and the introduction of new, impeccably dressed, well manicured artists who wear frilly shirts and have fancy hairdo's. These artists are colorful entertainers, capable of exhibiting a multitude of facial expressions and grimaces as they play music that although is being marketed by big record companies under the guise of "jazz", seems to have more in common with other styles like r&b, rock, celtic, pop, and world music. Amazingly, despite all the deceit and mis-representation, true jazz fans manage to cut through the hype and get to the real thing. For real jazz is like the wind; you may not be able to see it, touch it, or even hear it.....but you know when it's there.
The wind in this case is none other than the transcendent spirit of Philadelphia bassist and composer, Tyrone Brown. Brown's career spans four decades. He has had a long association with saxophonist Odean Pope, and was co-founder of the 70's group Catalyst
. He also was a member of Pat Martino's band, where from 1968 to 1974, Brown swung mightily with rhythm-mate Sherman Ferguson. Primarily known as a sideman, of late Brown has expanding his horizons, re-inventing himself on a number of fronts, and emerging as the leader of this fine date for the Naxos label entitled Song of the Sun
For this CD, Brown has assembled what would appear as a classical string sextet plus percussion. However, the way that he orchestrates for the ensemble, and especially his own instrument; playing ostinato figures and walking bass lines, laying the foundation for other members of the unit to freely improvise, is more in keeping with the traditional jazz ensemble. Brown re-creates and extends the jazz experience through the usage of instruments clearly more associated with classical music, but exacting performances that bring forth a sense of urgency and immediacy; performances rarely found outside the jazz lexicon. The date kicks off with Subterranean Dream
; which begins with Brown's tonic/minor seventh vamp, over which the strings play an array of interesting changes interspersed with alternating sections of groove and rubato. Eh-Leigh
is essentially a minor blues spiced up by the use of a harmonized lydian scale over which the melody is played, while Brown's composition Bittersweet Rendevous
is a tour de force for violinist John Blake; who in this reviewers opinion, is one bad cat. With Portrait Of The Artist
, you get a chance to hear Brown swing with percussionist William "Duke" Wilson, and on Matador
, Brown spotlights his ability as a fine soloist, literally making the bass come alive before your very ears. After giving us so much vibrant music, one can only top it off with a ballad- and Brown and company do just that- by closing the set with the beautiful Peace
, a song composed by pianist and fellow Philadelphian Eddie Green.
For those jazz lovers looking to expand their collection of fine recordings, or for newcomers looking to experience their first taste of genuine jazz at it's best; look no further than Tyrone Brown. He's the real thing.