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Pop Music Reviews : Bluesman Charles Brown Recalls the Glory Years

It’s a mystery how a performer like Charles Brown can slip so far between the cracks that he doesn’t appear in Hollywood for more than 40 years. Yet, there he was Tuesday night at the Vine St. Bar & Grill--a vigorous, 66-year-old blues singer/pianist whose skills are still comparable with the best work of Otis Redding, Sam Cooke and Bobby (Blue) Bland.

Brown, who scored a string of R&B; hits with Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers in the post-World War II era, seemed to bear little resentment over his slide into obscurity in the early ‘50s. His set was peppered with colorful, upbeat tales of his glory years in the turbulent, postwar L.A. scene.

Predictably, he played the blues in every size and shape, but mostly in the sleek, sensual night-music style that had a powerful effect on such performers as Ray Charles, Little Richard, Cooke and Redding. Brown sang the likes of the Blazers’ classic “Drifting Blues,” “I Cried Last Night” and “Every Day I Have the Blues” with simmering intensity, the heat turned up via energetic solos from guitarist Danny Caron and tenor saxophonist Clifford Solomon.

Brown’s ballad work was no less convincing. “I’m Looking for Someone to Love,” framed in a rhapsodic, Gershwinesque setting, and the standard “Cottage for Sale” were richly enhanced by an almost symbiotic interaction between Brown’s voice and his piano.

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