Andy Brown


June 2015

Here are some fun gigs I'll be doing this month:

- Thursday, June 18th the Whiskey Lounge, one of the Chicago area's best jazz listening rooms, with trumpeter Art Davis and bassist Jim Cox

- Live recording with vocalist Paul Marinaro and his quintet at the High Hat Club on Wednesday June 10th

Weekly steadies continue:

Sundays - Duo with Petra van Nuis at Pete Millers Evanston
Mondays - Trio with the Joe Policastro Trio at Pops For Champagne
Tuesdays - Solo guitar at Broadway Cellars
Wednesdays - Andy Brown Quartet at Andy's Jazz Club

My new Delmark solo guitar CD "Soloist" has been getting some nice reviews lately:

Just Jazz Guitar Magazine:

Andy Brown perpetuates the legacy of great Chicago guitarists with this fine collection of standards all reharmonzed with fingerstyle flair. Like Joe Pass, Brown plays solo guitar employing bebop rides, melodic minor runs and walking bass lines. In short, he's a comprehensive and creative soloist and with just occasional exceptions his choices are interpreted sans pick.

First tune of the set is an aptly romantic rendition of Irving Berlin's "Dancing in the Dark" followed by a spirited version of "Stompin' at the Savoy" with a walking bass line juxtaposed against imaginative improvisations. This is bonafide jazz and each offering is complete unto itself but the guitarist always presents us with the melody. In addition to Pass' influence Brown says he was mentored by the late, great Kenny Poole who was one of jazz guitar's best and most unique players. Those of us who knew Kenny felt like we were in on a big secret and it's nice to see him get recognition here by another fine player. In addition, in the liner notes Brown cites his admiration of Ted Greene, George Van Eps, Cal Collins, Lenny Breau and Howard Alden.

Other highlights include the too often overlooked, "O Barquino" (Little Boat), "Nina Never Knew," "When Your Lover Has Gone," complete with its little known verse. Brown switches to the pick just for "Godchild." "Drum Boogie" is unusual and fun and Van Eps' "Tango El Bongo" is no doubt a shout out to GVE's 1960s records. These are studio recordings but the session in essence reproduced what you'll hear Brown play on a gig. He had audio engineer Scott Steinman keep the tape rolling as he went from tune to tune, all spontaneous choices. Other standouts (they're all excellent) include "Estate," "It's the Talk of the Town," "By Myself" and "Memories of You."

Andy Brown is a major leaguer who'll score with aficionados and casual listeners alike because he respects the compositions while presenting his own take on a tune. His choices are astute and any jazz guitarist would enjoy an evening appreciating his artistry while his or her date would just enjoy the good music. Brown is smart and savvy like Les Paul and Armstrong who'd always lay the familiar in the listener's lap as a constant reference point for his improvisations.

Highly Recommended

Chicago Jazz Magazine:

Guitarist Andy Brown's intimate Soloist is, as the title indicates, a set of unaccompanied tunes to which Brown brings his personal touch. Indeed, the reading of these 14 standards showcases his lyrical virtuosity at its best, as he reinterprets them with deft elegance without wandering far from their original essence. For instance, on violinist and saxophonist Edgar Sampson's "Stompin' At The Savoy," Brown's exuberant refrains roll spontaneously around the main melody, infusing it with a delightful sense of rhythm. Elsewhere, Brown reshapes and remolds the harmonic elements of guitarist George Van Eps' "Tango El Bongo" with agility and subtle but definite sensuality. His lithe and sophisticated flourishes shimmer with quiet romanticism. Brown is a master of understatement, exposing the emotional core of the music without resorting to overt melodrama. The languid version of Cole Porter's "Anything Goes" is mellifluous without being saccharine.

Moreover, he crafts superb, multilayered performances without the need of orchestral accompaniment. On the classic "You're My Everything," a sunny disposition marks his up-tempo and luminous improvisation. Simultaneously, he tempers softer tones on Bruno Martino's passionate "Estate" with a hard-edged, swinging touch. The guitarist creates intriguing contrasts within each tune. The soulful arrangement of drummer Gene Krupa's "Drum Boogie" features crisp, funk-infused lines that build a thrilling inner dialogue with languid and long phrases. Meanwhile on the lilting "Nina Never Knew," Brown's intricate cascade of sparkling notes weaves a complex and engaging solo that alluringly complements the lullaby-like simplicity of the song. Brown's fourth release as leader/co-leader may be seen as an homage to legendary guitarist Joe Pass' Virtuoso albums. Brown does not derive his style, however, from Pass or anyone else for that matter. It is, singularly, his voice. Soloist may not share Pass' records' innovative ingenuity, but it is nevertheless inventive, charming and poetic. It certainly makes for an enjoyable and satisfying listening experience.

Downbeat Magazine:

A fixture on the Chicago jazz scene since 2003, Andy Brown is a superior mainstream guitarist. "Soloist" features Brown performing 13 standards plus George Van Eps' "Tango El Bongo." In the liner notes Brown cites the inspirations of Kenny Poole, Van Eps and Howard Alden, and one can hear a bit of Joe Pass in his approach. Unlike Pass, Brown only occasionally plays a bass line, emphasizing his single-note runs punctuated with occasional chords. While some of the music, particularly the ballads, can be viewed as relaxing background music, a closer listen reveals plenty of subtle creativity. Fortunately many of the performances are taken at a hotter medium-tempo pace. Other than the tightly arranged Van Eps piece, the playing is fairly spontaneous with the uptempo "Drum Boogie" and a lyrical "Memories Of You" being among the high points.

Andy Brown