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Brownie

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Album Review

40 years after recording a classic album with trumpeter Clifford Brown, singer Helen Merrill paid tribute to the late Brownie, who died tragically in 1956. Utilizing on various tracks trumpeters Tom Harrell, Wallace Roney, Roy Hargrove and Lew Soloff, as well as pianist Kenny Barron, bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Victor Lewis, Merrill performs a variety of tunes, most of which were associated with Brown. There are plenty of unexpected surprises on the date, including passages where the trumpet ensemble performs parts of Brownie's original solos; also noteworthy are Harrell's unaccompanied flugelhorn version of "Joy Spring," Barron's solo piano rendition of "Memories of You" and touching moments like "I'll Be Seeing You," "I Remember Clifford" and "Gone With the Wind." Producer Torrie Zito sometimes adds some atmospheric and effective synthesizer, and in addition to the standards, Zito contributed a new original, "Brownie." Throughout the often emotional date, Helen Merrill is heard in top form, giving plenty of feeling to the lyrics while leaving room for the guest trumpeters. Recommended.

Biography

Born: 21 July 1930 in New York, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

A fine singer with a warm, expressive voice, Helen Merrill's infrequent recordings tend to be quite special with plenty of surprises and chance-taking. She started singing in public in 1944 and was with the Reggie Childs Orchestra during 1946-1947. Merrill, who was married for a period to clarinetist Aaron Sachs, had opportunities to sit in with some of the top modernists of the time, including Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, and Bud Powell. She was with Earl Hines in 1952 and started recording regularly...
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Brownie, Helen Merrill
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