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In a Grand Style

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Album Review

This posthumously released material — mostly classic and classy love songs — puts an exclamation point on the career of a true American music legend, a legitimate grand master in more ways than one. It is not, as the back cover states, a "solo piano album." Charles Brown does, in fact, sing on all the cuts save one, but there's no rhythm section or soloist to help. It's simply Charles Brown, all soulful, with light-colored blues, gently swinging but by himself. There are classics like "Black Night," "Stumbled and Fell in Love," the curious "One Never Knows, Does One?" and Little Walter's slightly raucous "Give Me a Woman." Brown's classical background on "Charles' Chopin Liszt" unleashes a cascading, tinkling, arpeggiated side rarely heard. Other intros also showcase this part of Brown's musicianship. Everything on the record, except for "Liszt," is a slow, cigarette-type smoldering blues that is sometimes downhearted, other times hopeful. But the lyrics of Brown's original "Wouldn't It Be Grand" speaks volumes about his hope for our future: "Wouldn't that be grand, if and when we die, we unite together in the sky/Get together, take our stand, glory land/Wouldn't that be grand." ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Biography

Born: September 13, 1922 in Texas City, TX

Genre: Blues

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

How many blues artists remained at the absolute top of their game after more than a half-century of performing? One immediately leaps to mind: Charles Brown. His incredible piano skills and laid-back vocal delivery remained every bit as mesmerizing at the end of his life as they were way back in 1945, when his groundbreaking waxing of "Drifting Blues" with guitarist Johnny Moore's Three Blazers invented an entirely new blues genre for sophisticated postwar revelers: an ultra-mellow, jazz-inflected...
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