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The Classic Introvert

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Album Review

One of many alumni of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, pianist Donald Brown is easily one of the most accomplished composers to graduate from the late drummer's finishing school for talented young musicians. On this solo piano session for Space Time, Brown explores a dozen thoughtful original compositions cast in a variety of moods. "Theme for Malcom," dedicated to the slain Muslim leader Malcom X, is Brown's third recorded version of this work, but it proves to have a character as complex as its namesake. "The McGhaw's Place" is a cheerful, upbeat ballad with a rich chord structure and a recurring bass vamp, a piece that needs lyrics to go along with it. Equally infectious is "A Dance for Marie-Do," a hip calypso, while "Dance Sucker" is an enticing salute to the late giant of New Orleans piano, James Booker, featuring Brown's striding left hand. Brown was friends with the late Phineas Newborn and his tribute, "Phineas," is every bit as multifaceted as the phenomenal musician it honors is. The session is beautifully recorded on a pristine Steinway piano. It is little wonder that so many of Donald Brown's peers have recorded his compositions, though no one can interpret them as well as the pianist himself.


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 albums...
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The Classic Introvert, Donald Brown
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