114

Paul Brown: Upfront

By

Sign in to view read count
You probably should have seen this coming, but it’s still somewhat of a surprise. When the king of smooth jazz producers decides to make an album, you figure it’s a vanity project. But what you get instead is one of 2004’s early surprises, top-to-bottom smooth jazz stunner brimming with bright melodies, good picking by Brown on the guitar and enough hits to fill a Christmas stocking.

More than any other producer in his genre, Brown defines what makes a hit. The “Paul Brown sound” is one that smooth artists kill for, and what a long list of artists have ridden to the top, from George Benson, Al Jarreau, Norman Brown and Euge Groove to Rick Braun, Boney James, Peter White and Larry Carlton. The 12-song CD is grooving and melodic, showcasing Brown’s guitar, drums and—yes—vocals. He scats on “Wes’ Coast Swing,” sings straight up on Van Morrison’s “Moondance” and alters his voice with a vocoder on James Taylor’s “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight.” The recording's first single, “24/7,” is already a smooth jazz radio smash. Other singles abound: the Wes Montgomery-penned “Angel”; the Larry Carlton-sounding “Moment by Moment,” with scatting; and the traditional “My Funny Valentine,” which Brown turns into a smooth classic and gets a chance to really play his guitar.

Brown’s list of guest musicians is impressive: Peter White, Boney James—for whom Brown has produced eight recordings—Jeff Lorber, Rick Braun and Chuck Loeb. Also on board are multi-instrumentalist Jeff Carruthers, whom Brown has known since his early mixing days, and French DJ star Cam, who rewrote a rap song and stripped it down with Brown for song called “Chill Out.”

An amazing debut.


Track Listing: Wes' Coast Swing; Angel; Moment by Moment; Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight; My Funny Valentine; Phat City; Sweet Sweet Love; Ain't No Sunshine; Chill Out; 24/7; Dear Ndugu; Moondance

Personnel: Paul Brown (guitar, vocals); Johnny Britt (keyboards); Jeff Lorber (vibraphone); D.C. (programming, keyboards, guitar); Jeff Carruthers (keyboards, drums, drum programming); Roberto Vally (bass); Jerry Hey (trumpet); Larry Williams (sax, keyboards); Chuck Loeb (guitar, keyboards); Bill Reichenbach (trombone); Peter White (guitar); Boney James (saxophone); Kurt "KC" Clayton (keyboards, drums, bass); Cam (keyboards, bass, drums, horn); Rick Braun (trumpet); Dan Higgins (saxophone)

Title: Upfront | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: GRP Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Just Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard CD/LP/Track Review Just Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: September 19, 2017
Read Introducing the Simon Eskildsen Trio CD/LP/Track Review Introducing the Simon Eskildsen Trio
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 19, 2017
Read Moment Frozen CD/LP/Track Review Moment Frozen
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 19, 2017
Read Minor Step CD/LP/Track Review Minor Step
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 19, 2017
Read A Meeting Of Spirits CD/LP/Track Review A Meeting Of Spirits
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 18, 2017
Read First Light CD/LP/Track Review First Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 18, 2017
Read "It Will Come" CD/LP/Track Review It Will Come
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 16, 2017
Read "Alchemist" CD/LP/Track Review Alchemist
by Roger Farbey
Published: February 1, 2017
Read "Together, As One" CD/LP/Track Review Together, As One
by Ian Patterson
Published: February 16, 2017
Read "Piano Song" CD/LP/Track Review Piano Song
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 9, 2017
Read "Compass" CD/LP/Track Review Compass
by Edward Blanco
Published: May 28, 2017
Read "May I Introduce To You" CD/LP/Track Review May I Introduce To You
by James Nadal
Published: August 23, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.