Ray Brown – 3 Dimensional – Swinging Like Crazy

Ray Brown

I only recently noticed that the Jazz giant Ray Brown doesn’t have his own blog entry yet.

What a miss!

To be fair, I’ve written about several records featuring him already, like Gene Harris’ Listen Here (a 1989 album), Oscar Peterson’s Night Train and Plays The Cole Porter Song Book (from 1962 and 1959 respectively), which also shows how long this genius has been active. I was very lucky to see him live once with his trio, back in the early 1990s about when the album below came out.

I even listed one of his albums with his own trio, Summer Wind, Live at the Loa in my 25 Essential Jazz albums.

Ray Brown really made the Oscar Peterson trio special. Obviously, Peterson is a genius himself, but only the extreme synergy with Brown made his trio work so outstanding. I personally don’t think his later work with other bassists like Nils Henning Ørsted Pedersen was ever the same level of fun as his first and main trio.

But still, no dedicated blog entry. Let me rectify this on a sunny autumn saturday morning, where the sunny mood of this great album is just the perfect fit for my mood.

Ray Brown Trio: 3 Dimensional (Concord Jazz 1992)

Ray Brown Trio 3 Dimensional Concord Jazz 1992

This album was released on Concord Jazz, a small Jazz label formed by Jazz Enthousiast Carl Jefferson. Unfortunately, soon after this album was produced, in 1994, Jefferson passed away and this great little label was sold.

Probably due to these changes in ownership, to this day, it is a bit trickier to find this album, I’ve given you two leads below. It is worth seeking out. The late 1980s and early 1990s Concord Jazz albums are really well recorded, and typically musicall they are simply a lot of fun.

Who do we get on this album? Well, you get the “typical” Ray Brown trio of this time, with Jeff Hamilton on drums and Gene Harris on the piano. This is probably the trio that get’s closest in fun and energy to the original Oscar Peterson trio with Brown, and Ed Thigpen on drums.

Some words about my favorite songs: Classical in G reminds me in a way of You Look Good To Me from Peterson’s classic We Get Requests, given that it also starts and ends with a Brown playing the bass with a bow. Paradise is slower but extremely groovy.

But my real favorite is probably Gumbo Hump, as the mix of Harris, Hamilton and Brown here really is just fantastic.

My rating: 4 stars

You can find it here (Amazon) and here (Spotify)

Montreux Alexander Live!

Monty Alexander

For whatever reason, although I really like piano trios as every regular reader of my blog will have understood by now, Monty Alexander flew under the radar screen for me until rather recently

Luckily, some other music lovers pointed me to him, and the trigger for purchasing this particular album was fellow Jazz addict JoeWhip’s entry to Audiostream’s Lovely Recordings, a new feature on the site:  (The rest of his list is also very much worth exploring, I had a bit more than half of it already and purchased most of the rest after reading the list).

Montreux Alexander Live! (MPS 1985/2014)

Montreux Alexander - The Monty Alexander Trio Live! At The Montreux Festival MPS

What a nice recommendation!

Live albums often are either really good or really dull. The dull ones often just try to hard, or don’t really capture the spirit and feeling of the concert and leave you uninvolved. The good ones are just the opposite.

Luckily, the latter applies here, you feel like you’re actually sitting in the concert and the groove get’s you immediately.

Jeff Hamilton is a great asset obviously, his ability to make any kind of music swing is just outstanding (he also plays, in a very similar style on Ray Brown Live At the Loa, one of my 25 Essential Jazz albums).

John Clayton is not that well known, but he is a Ray Brown pupil and you can hear it.

I can only agree with JoeWhip on his assessment that this is music that will make you smile no matter how down you are.

Recommended.

My rating: 4 stars

You can find it here (Qobuz)