Pianist, composer and multi-instrumentalist Alex Brown delivers his second solo album and follow up to his amazing debut album, Pianist
(Sunny Side, 2010), with the audacious The Dark Fire Sessions
comprised of nine superb original compositions of all rhythm-based music without horns or brass. The album contains a delicious taste of the Latin, Afro-Cuban and south American rhythms Brown has come to appreciate strongly, though it is not an entirely Latin recording, as evidenced by the various mainstream sounds on display.
The pianist's affinity for the Latin jazz comes partly from his long-time association with saxophonist Paquito D'Rivera
as a member of his ensemble since 2007. Of Brown, D'Rivera once stated, "I know to seek and (find) where there is gold; that is why I chose to produce Alex's stunning debut." The pianist is accompanied here by a core group of players including his brother Zachary Brown
on bass, Matthew Stevens
on guitar, Eric Doob
on the drums and Paulo Stagnaro
on percussion. Five other players on guitars and percussion instruments round out the nine musicians performing on the album.
Originating from an isolated province in Argentina called Santiago Del Estero, chacarera is a dance style of music and integral part of the country's culture. For "Chacarera," Brown brings in Franco Pinna
on the bombo leguero to highlight the Latin folk sound. "Wistful Road" is another ambitious number showcasing a percussive sound with the leader introducing an Afro-Uruguayan beat on another outstanding piece of music. The following "24-7" song departs from the beginning Latin flavor in favor of a more modern, mainstream approach where the leader tees off on the keys in swinging style.
All is not swing or Latin-styled however, as the beautiful, slow-tempo "See You Again" clearly demonstrates, bringing Steven's light guitar work to the fore on the only ballad-styled tune of the session. For "New Flamenco," Brown collaborates with Spanish percussionist Sergio Martinez
complimenting Brown's solos with the sounds of the cajon and flamenco percussions. Other splendid moments to experience are heard on "Novembro," "Before It Began" and the eight-minute finale "Anthem."
Certainly not your typical journey in to the jazz landscape but, absolutely a unique excursion and exploration of the broader Latin jazz genre in ways one may have not heard before. A compelling set of musical experiences.
Intro; Chacarera; Wistful Road; 24-7; See You Again; New Flamenco; Novembro; Almost There; Before It Began;