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West Coast Coolin'

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Album Review

Norman Brown issues his third Warner Bros. date in the last five years, and goes far deeper into adult urban soul by showcasing himself as a vocalist in addition to his prodigious groove jazz guitar chops. Brown works with a host of producers, and his familiar smooth jazz underpinnings — derived more from George Benson and Hiram Bullock than Wes Montgomery these days — are present but not prevalent on most of the set. Instead, his slick nu-soul/nu-jazz singing style — identified by a thin whispery tenor — gets front and center on more than half the album's ten cuts. There's nothing wrong with this per se, but given how carefully crafted for radio this disc is, there are no surprises whatsoever; it's all safe, polished, and predictable. The highlights are the title track with its spidery groove and laid-back funky rhythm, the slippery hip-hop of "Come Over," and an inspired cover of "What's Goin' On."


Born: 18 December 1970 in Kansas City, MO

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Guitarist Norman Brown splashed into the soul-jazz scene in 1992 as a recording artist for Mo Jazz and quickly went on to win substantial acclaim, beginning with his award-winning second album, After the Storm. Both Gavin and Soul Train named it Jazz Album of the Year, and After the Storm remained on the charts for over two years. Suddenly critics drew comparisons to other astonishing jazz guitarists from the past such as George Benson and Wes Montgomery, and Brown became the toast of the soul-jazz...
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West Coast Coolin', Norman Brown
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