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Jack Brownlow was born in Wenatchee, a small town in Washington State. So was bop saxophonist, Don Lanphere and jazz writer Doug Ramsey. Ramsey relates an interesting bit of jazz trivia about Wenatchee in his very good book Jazz Matters: Reflections on the Music and Some of Its Makers. Ramsey, long an admirer of Miles Davis, had never seen him play live. The opportunity came when Miles was playing the Jazz Gallery in Greenwich Village, New York when Ramsey was in town. During a break, Davis came to the bar and sat on the stool next to Ramsey. Small talk ensued, with no introductions and no talk about that night's performance or jazz in general. Just as Davis was leaving to return to the stand, he asked Ramsey where he was from. Ramsey said from a small town in Washington "which I'm sure you never heard of" called Wenatchee. Davis smiled and said "say hello to Don Lanphere".
Brownlow subsequently moved to Seattle where he has been performing professionally at least since the early 1950's. Becoming a fixture of the city's jazz scene, he also taught music and harmony instructing such jazz luminaries as Randy Brecker, Jay Thomas, Rufus Reid and others. Suddenly It's Bruno is his second album (the first was self-produced) and testifies to Brownlow's harmonic inventiveness. The trio quietly, but resolutely, wends their way through eleven standards and two Brownlow originals. The playing is relaxed, contemplative requiring attentive listening to catch all the nuances. Everything is tasteful about this session, even the drum breaks are done in a manner which do not intrude upon the breezy, calm ambience. Brownlow is joined on this set by well established and respected Seattle musicians. Jeff Johnson shines on bass, while Dean Hodges and Jason Vontver share drum duties.
There is not a bad track on the CD. From the first cut, a sparkling rendition of the title tune "Suddenly It's Spring", to the coda "Detour Ahead" where Brownlow does some inventive improvising backed by bassist Jeff Johnson recalling Bill Evans' work with Scott LaFaro, the playing is entrancing. In between, there are delights like "When You Wish upon a Star", "I Fall in Love too Easily" and "If I Should Lose You" are treated to the respect they deserve by Brownlow and his group. Johnson's bass is especially lyrical on "When You Wish..." J.J. Johnson's sensitive Lament demonstrates that simply stated musical themes can be as satisfying as more complex musical forms. This track is straightforward piano playing at its very best.
Tracks: Suddenly It's Spring; The Thrill Is Gone; Lament; Moonlight; When You Wish upon a Star; Orbits (Unless It's You); I Do It for your Love; Gone with the Breeze; The Leaves; I Fall in Love too Easily; As Long as There's Music; If I Should Lose You; Detour Ahead
Personnel: Jack Brownlow - Piano; Jeff Johnson - Bass; Jason Vontver/Dean Hodges, - Drums