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Ultimate Frontier

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Album Review

The Chicago-based saxophonist Ari Brown epitomizes everything great about the jazz mainstream. He expresses a unique personality clearly and resolutely within the bounds of his chosen idiom, which is, after all, all one can ask of an artist in any realm. In Brown's experienced hands, the time-worn becomes something new; Brown makes the older jazz styles absolutely contemporary by bringing to them a fresh perspective. This is Brown's first date as a leader; he was 52 years-old when it was recorded. Whereas so much straightahead jazz of the past two decades has ignored the innovations of the free jazz revolution, Brown has integrated a bit of the free sensibility into his post-bop playing. In doing so, he's created a music more directly connected to the whole of the jazz tradition than that of any ten "young lions" (how about using "young copycats," instead?). Brown's supporting cast is a collection of hometown pros — brother Kirk Brown on piano, Yosef Ben Israel on bass, and Avreeayl Ra on drums. Their music is every bit as warm and as honest as one would expect, coming from musicians for whom this music is not an affectation, but rather a way of life. Ari Brown's music has come to light fairly late in the game — which is a blessing for his listeners, in a way. For it's an extremely rare delight in these youth-obsessed times to happen upon, for the first time, such a wonderfully creative artist so fully-developed. A very fine album, to say the least.

Biography

Born: February 1, 1944

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Versatility has characterized the career of Ari Brown, a Chicago-based reedman and occasional pianist who plays hard bop and post-bop as convincingly as he plays avant-garde jazz. After growing up on the city's South Side and graduating from high school in the early '60s, Brown attended Chicago's Wilson College, where he met Jack DeJohnette, Henry Threadgill, Roscoe Mitchell, Joseph Jarman, and others who would later become members of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM)....
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