Recorded in January 2000, Walk On was the latest release by bassist Ray Brown before his passing in July 2002. Maynard Ferguson once remarked that he was attracted to jazz because jazz musicians always seemed to enjoy what they were playing. The sense of joy is present throughout Walk On.
“America the Beautiful” begins with Brown playing that most-famous melody on bass. Suddenly, Geoffrey Keezer and Karriem Riggins join in with kinetic piano and drum improvisations, leaving the melody behind and taking the song out. The rest of the disc stays at this high level of group interaction and cohesion. Fats Waller’s “Honeysuckle Rose” gets a slow-as-molasses blues treatment by Keezer with gentle caressing of the eighty-eights. Brown’s playing is characterized by a very tasteful, melodic sense of swing that never lets up.
If one wants an example of that often-talked about, but hard-to-define jazz thing called “swing,” this record provides a complete lesson on the subject. Brown’s bass anchors the proceedings on Walk On, but generous solo space is given to Keezer and Riggins. There is not a boring track on this two disc set. And as is the case on Telarc recordings, the sound quality is crystal clear with lots of definition. Walk On is a total joy to listen to and one of the best releases of the year. Ray Brown went out on the highest of notes.
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