Friday, July 02, 2010

Norman Brown - "Sending My Love" Peak Records #jazz

Whether to military troops overseas, family members or fans, guitarist Norman Brown has plenty of love to give. And he shows it with Sending My Love.

Brown is a Grammy Award winner who has played guitar since the age of 8. Drawing inspiration from Jimi Hendrix and Wes Montgomery, and often compared to George Benson, Brown has worked with a number of smooth jazz luminaries, including Paul Brown, Kirk Whalum, Rick Braun, Mitch Forman and Michael Manson.

Sending My Love features nine original songs, penned by Brown, alone or in collaboration with keyboardist Herman Jackson or other associates. In addition to the core group, a five-piece horn section appears on some tracks. Daughter Rochella Brown, Melvin Moore III and the Sounds of Blackness also make appearances.

Alex Al's bass line sets the groove for “Play Time.” Drums and percussion enhance the background. The horn section softly underscores Brown's lead during the verses, but come out a bit stronger during the chorus. Brown scats from time to time. But the guitar is clearly the star. The playing is clean and precise. During the closing sequence, piano and percussion give the song a Latin vibe.

“Coming Back (Return of the Man)” is another finger-snapping, head-bobbing groove. It has solid contributions all around. Brown carries the piece much of the way. Herman Jackson steps forward with a brief solo, but he gets plenty of bang for his buck, slipping in several rapid-notes-per-second phrases. Brown scores some quick-fingering exercises as well.

The overall theme of Sending My Love is positive. The lyrics for the vocal tracks are uplifting, and every selection has a happy, “life is good,” mood. A few of the tracks, while listenable, lack punch. They fit too easily into the mold of contemporary R&B, which means they sound like they were mass produced on an R&B assembly line. The instruments-only tracks do not suffer this condition.


Track Listing: Come Go With Me; Here's My Number; Sending My Love; Celebrate Me Home; Play Time; Special Moments; I'm Pouring My Heart Out; Thinking About You; Coming Back (Return of the Man); One Last Goodbye.

Personnel: Norman Brown: guitar, vocals; Herman Jackson: keyboards; Emmery Williams: piano, programming; Alex Al: bass; Teddy Campbell: drums; Jubu: rhythm guitar; Kevin Ricard: percussion; Ellis Randolph III: tenor sax; Jumaane S. Smith: trumpet; Miguel C. Gandelman: tenor sax; Raymond C. Monteiro: trumpet; Garrett B. Smith: trombone; Melvin Moore III: vocals; Rochella Brown: vocals (4), Sounds of Blackness: choir (4).

By Woodrow Wilkins - allaboutjazz.com

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