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!

529

The Blues of Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count
The Blues of Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown
Storyville Films Blues Legends
2007



What a DVD of a 1984 Clarence "Gatemouth Brown concert proves is how timeless, ageless, and transcendent both this artist and his craft are. Brown's final recordings, mere months before his death from lung cancer in September 2005, sound no less fresh, vital, and beyond categorization than the music of this performance of more than twenty years ago.

Tempted at first to discuss The Blues of Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown as the archival footage of an American music master plying his trade at the peak of his powers, I must first point out that Brown himself was an archive. The multi-instrumentalist shuddered when called a "blues musician. Indeed, Brown played the blues, but for anyone else to reduce him to such a simple description would be tantamount to describing Sir Isaac Newton as a math teacher.

The Blues of Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown was recorded February 4, 1984 at The Maple Leaf in New Orleans. Brown fronts a big band typical, for him, of this career stage. Occurring between 1981's Alright Again and 1987's Real Life, Brown's New Orleans concert extended the language of those two releases with his fearless ambition to play in any damn style he pleased. The concert opens with the upbeat boogie "I Feel Alright Again, immediately putting on the brakes for the R&B "I Wonder. He follows that with what Brown calls "one of his jazz tunes —"Gate Walks the Board. This is prime Gate playing jump blues that are a stylistic collision of the Basie Band with T-Bone Walker.

The filmed concert amply illustrates Brown's unusual guitar playing style, one that can only be compared to Ty Cobb's crazy bat grip. Brown strums with his thumb but plays single notes with his right-hand index and middle fingers. Technically, this solution never made him as fast a guitarist as he could have been, but he was still pretty fast and dropped very few notes. Enough of that technical stuff—this is shit-kicking music, and just when the viewer thinks Brown is finished traversing the American musical landscape, he picks up his violin and plays a bit of Zydeco-inflected country on "Sunrise Cajun Style. Next Gate tears the blues up on "One More Mile and his own "Pressure Cooker, both very much in the Basie style. Albert Collins' "Frosty" is no less a blues treat for being less heated.

Gate closes the disc with a white hot "Up Jumped the Devil —so genuine the listener can smell the horse manure and beer while Gate steps on the gas and pushes the tempo to whiplash speed, ending the performance on the only note Clarence "Gatemouth Brown knew how to go out on...a happy one.


Tracks: I Feel Alright Again; I Wonder; Gate Walks the Board; Sunrise Cajun Style; Song for Rene; Six Levels Below Plant Life; Frosty; One More Mile; Pressure Cooker; Catfish; Up Jumped the Devil.



Personnel: Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown: vocals, guitar, violin; other musicians not identified.

Production Notes: 50 minutes. Concert Recorded February 4, 1984 at The Maple Leaf, New Orleans, Louisiana. Audio provided in both standard and Dolby 5.1 sonics.

Visit Clarence Brown at All About Jazz.


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read La La Land DVD/Film Reviews La La Land
by Gareth Thomas
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Jeff Beck: Live at the Hollywood Bowl DVD/Film Reviews Jeff Beck: Live at the Hollywood Bowl
by Doug Collette
Published: October 7, 2017
Read Rolling Stones From The Vault: Sticky Fingers Live at the Fonda Theatre 2015 DVD/Film Reviews Rolling Stones From The Vault: Sticky Fingers Live at the...
by Doug Collette
Published: September 30, 2017
Read Frank Sinatra: Portrait Of An Album | Sinatra Sings DVD/Film Reviews Frank Sinatra: Portrait Of An Album | Sinatra Sings
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: September 27, 2017
Read Frank Sinatra: Live From Caesar’s Palace | The First 40 Years DVD/Film Reviews Frank Sinatra: Live From Caesar’s Palace | The First...
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: September 27, 2017
Read Frank Sinatra: The Royal Festival Hall (1962) | Live At Carnegie Hall DVD/Film Reviews Frank Sinatra: The Royal Festival Hall (1962) | Live At...
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: September 27, 2017
Read "Jeff Beck: Live at the Hollywood Bowl" DVD/Film Reviews Jeff Beck: Live at the Hollywood Bowl
by Doug Collette
Published: October 7, 2017
Read "Frank Sinatra: The Royal Festival Hall (1962) | Live At Carnegie Hall" DVD/Film Reviews Frank Sinatra: The Royal Festival Hall (1962) | Live At...
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: September 27, 2017
Read "Fathom Events Presents "The Grateful Dead Movie"" DVD/Film Reviews Fathom Events Presents "The Grateful Dead Movie"
by Doug Collette
Published: April 30, 2017
Read "Man of the World: The Peter Green Story" DVD/Film Reviews Man of the World: The Peter Green Story
by Jim Trageser
Published: February 11, 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!