With his second release as a leader The Music and the Moment guitarist Larry Brown Jr. deviates stylistically from his debut, the delightful and stimulating There Can Only Be One (Self Produced, 2011). While the previous record was firmly rooted in the hard bop mainstream spiced by various influences, the current one is an amalgam of popular genres delivered with jazz inspired sensibility.
For instance, the R & B-ish, undulating "The Return of the Gentleman" coalesces around Brown's eloquent and swaggering spontaneous lines. Guest trumpeter Marquis Hill blows a melodic and warm improvisation that meanders around the rhythm trio's percolating beats without wandering far from the main theme.
The psychedelic "Foreigner," meanwhile, brims with cinematic sound effects courtesy of multi-instrumentalist Ben Joseph. The resulting haunting ambience serves as a backdrop for Brown's intriguing, rock-influenced chords and hypnotic vocals that expand over the band's pulsating vamps. Brown showcases his singing skills elsewhere on the CD as he duets with soulful vocalist Meagan McNeal on the exquisite and playful "Obsession"
In the hands of a less accomplished artist the inclusion of so many various musical types may result in a messy, unappetizing hodge-podge. Brown, however, superbly pulls it off thanks primarily to his prowess as an instrumentalist and his ability to highlight common threads among the pieces.
On the mellifluous "My Love, My Life, My Everything" vocalist Nola Ade passionate articulation soars over drummer Alfonzo Jones' exacting gallop. Ade's evocative vocals and bassist Emma Dayhuff's lyrical strings set a dramatic mood to which Brown contributes a brief yet elegantly poetic solo.
This complements such tracks as the simmering "Yes" and the inspiring "Dream Chasers." On the former vocalist Jennifer Hodges emotively enunciates poet Denise Miller's sensual and erudite verse over the band's languid refrains. Pianist Bill Cessina's crisp phrases fall in sparkling cascades as he concludes on a sophisticated note. The latter, meanwhile, contrasts Brown's father Pastor Larry Brown Sr's rousing sermon with spoken word artist Legend's streetwise statements as both men explore common, uplifting motifs. Cellist Tomeka Reid underscores the poignant dialogue with her sublime con arco work.
The Music and the Moment is clearly not for purists. It is, however, an engaging and pleasant album by an exceptionally talented musician. It is Brown's attempt at a more universal form of creative expression. Despite its considerable charm it is, hopefully, a diversion and not a permanent change in Brown's career path.
Language of The Unheard; The Return Of The Gentleman; Foreigner; Dream
Chasers; My Love, My Life, My Everything; Obsession; Yes; Through; U.
Larry Brown Jr – guitars, vocals, auxiliary sounds; Emma Dayhuff: bass, vocals;
Alfonzo Jones: drums and percussion; Bill Cessina: piano, keyboards; Ben Joseph:
auxiliary sounds; Tomeka Reid: strings; Marquis Hill: trumpet; Nola Ade: vocals;
Meagan McNeal: vocals; Jennifer Hodges: spoken word; Legend: spoken word;
Larry Brown Sr.: spoken word; Denise Miller: poem.
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