Brown Mixed With Green Becomes Gold

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* * * RAY BROWN TRIO; “Bass Face”; T elarc

Pianist Benny Green has injected new life into bassist Ray Brown’s trio. On this live date recorded at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz last April, Brown, who turns 67 this month, makes his best statements in support of his junior sideman, swinging with finesse or walking with swagger behind Green’s richly constructed improvisations.

The pianist, whose dense chordal sound is much like former Brown keyboardist Gene Harris’ thick, gospel-flavored attack, gets his boss up on his feet and sprinting during Miles Davis’ “Milestones” and Brown’s own “Phineas Can Be.” Green can also be coolly considerate, as he is on his long, unaccompanied introduction to “Taking a Chance on Love.”


It’s on the ballads that Brown and Green give their best combined efforts, the two resonating with harmonically sympathetic lines (“In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning”) or extending each other’s ideas with clever fills and asides, as on the title tune.

Throughout, Brown’s sense of pitch and time is as accurate as at any point in his long career, his solos just as melodic. Drummer Jeff Hamilton is the perfect percussive foil, adding a constant array of rim, cymbal and tom-tom accents. A more ambitious selection of material would have earned this recording at least another half star.

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