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Piano Short Stories

Donald Brown

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Album Review

Donald Brown's first solo piano date is an imaginative and wide-ranging program. Starting off with a well-disguised, funky introduction to an eye-opening take of Rodgers and Hart's "I Didn't Know What Time It Was," his sprightly interpretation of the old warhorse "On Green Dolphin Street" should get any crowd snapping their fingers. Brown is equally effective exploring other jazz composers' works. His unique way of opening Herbie Hancock's "Dolphin Dance" adds a degree of suspense to this normally lighthearted song; Thelonious Monk's features a wild boogie-woogie bass. "Take the 'A' Train" seems to follow a predictable route, but briefly detours into a collage of themes from the 1930s and 1940s. Brown grew to become one of the most respected jazz composers during the decade, and this live CD has four fine examples of his work: the delightful, striding "For Pops"; the discordant, Monk-influenced "In Walked Toot"; the very tender ballad "Self Portrait"; the gospel-flavored "Clermont by Night"; and the bluesy "Philippe's Stomp." The audience is respectively silent as they witness these masterful performances; this release should appeal greatly to a wide range of jazz piano fans.

Biography

Born: 28 March 1954 in Hernando, MS

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

A fine pianist and educator, Donald Brown has also been a prolific composer. He grew up in Memphis and actually started out on drums and trumpet. By the time he attended Memphis State University (1972-1975), he was playing jazz piano. After years of local work, Brown replaced James Williams with the Jazz Messengers (1981-1982). He went on to teach at Berklee (1983-1985) and the University of Tennessee (starting in 1988), recorded...
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