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!


Brown/Alexander/Griffin/Drew: Summer Wind

Rob Mariani By

Sign in to view read count
This is a collaboration of giants who swing so hard and with such incomparable assuredness that you simply cannot sit still when they are playing. And it all starts with Ray Brown. His huge, woody double-bass sound is unmistakable, as is his impeccable time feeling. So much has been written about this incredible musician; on this particular CD he lives up to every one of his greatest accolades. Ray Brown defines swinging in 4/4 time and will always be one of the quintessential voices of jazz.

Monty Alexander's dazzling piano technique is equally definitive. But his playing is never just about speed or dexterity—both of which he has in abundance. Alexander's solos are magnificently shaped and crafted and full of exciting, spontaneous ideas.

Listening to his huge vocabulary of notes on an up-tempo tune like the opening "Blues For Groundhog, I was reminded of a criticism that Miles Davis is alleged to have made about Oscar Peterson, another keyboard dazzler: "He doesn't leave anything out. Indeed, Alexander is every bit as ornate and facile as O.P.—and of course, we know Miles was just talking about the type of accompaniment he prefers. But like Peterson, Alexander is a joy to listen to, simply because he can and does play with such a full palette of notes. His exuberance is irresistible.

As an accompanist, Alexander is as driving and compelling as Brown. And the absolutely precise and unfussy time feeling drummer Martin Drew adds to the mix results in a rousing juggernaut of a rhythm section that might intimidate a lesser virtuoso than "The Little Giant, Mr. Johnny Griffin on tenor. Griffin, of course, fits into virtually any jazz context. When I first heard him live with the Thelonious Monk Quartet at the old New York Five Spot, I was certain he had been born to play in Monk's spare, minimalist context. But he sounds just as right against the complex and tightly structured rhythm section on this session. His ideas are always delightfully musical, and no, Miles, he doesn't "leave anything out either. It's pretty much wall-to-wall notes on every one of the tunes here. The ideas just keep on coming.

The one cut where everyone eases off a little in terms of complexity is the bluesy Ray Charles composition "Hard Times. Alexander decided to sing this one, and it's perhaps not the strongest point of the set; but it's short and sweet and fun to hear his voice and phrasing just kind of tossed off with no pretense about his singing debut.

There's a wonderful alternate take on "Put your Little Foot with just Griffin and Brown, two masters at the top of their game playing a fun, relaxed little ditty, taking it places it's never been. "Summerwind is the kind of jazz that even non-jazz lovers will find enjoyable because it embraces the listener with a seductive rhythmic and musical warmth.

Recorded back in 1980, this session will sound just as good and as swinging a hundred years from now.

Track Listing: Blues For Groundhogs; Thanks For The Memory; Medley; Hard Times; Put Your Little Foot Right Out; Woogie Boogie; Consider; Street Life; Swamp Fire; Summerwind; Griff And Me; Delaunay's Dilemma.

Personnel: Ray Brown (bass); Monty Alexander (vocals, piano); Johnny Griffin (saxophone); Martin Drew (drums).

Title: Summer Wind | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Kingston Records


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Baby It's Cold Outside CD/LP/Track Review Baby It's Cold Outside
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 13, 2017
Read Wrong Turns And Dead Ends CD/LP/Track Review Wrong Turns And Dead Ends
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 13, 2017
Read Lavaman CD/LP/Track Review Lavaman
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 13, 2017
Read Paimon: Book of Angels Volume 21 CD/LP/Track Review Paimon: Book of Angels Volume 21
by Don Phipps
Published: December 13, 2017
Read Bad Hombre CD/LP/Track Review Bad Hombre
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Aladdin's Dream CD/LP/Track Review Aladdin's Dream
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 12, 2017
Read "Holiday On Fire" CD/LP/Track Review Holiday On Fire
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 27, 2017
Read "Counteraction" CD/LP/Track Review Counteraction
by Roger Farbey
Published: March 20, 2017
Read "Evolution" CD/LP/Track Review Evolution
by Greg Simmons
Published: April 23, 2017
Read "Threes" CD/LP/Track Review Threes
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: July 12, 2017
Read "Poetry from the Future" CD/LP/Track Review Poetry from the Future
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 30, 2017
Read "Confidences" CD/LP/Track Review Confidences
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 3, 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!