Andy Brown


News

April 2015

Thanks to those that made the Whiskey Lounge for the CD release party of my new solo guitar CD "Soloist." For those that missed it I got some nice video footage from it which I edited and posted here

Howard Reich from the Chicago Tribune was there and wrote this review of the night:

Whiskey Lounge marks anniversary with Andy Brown
March 21, 2015 | By Howard Reich

One sure sign something important is about to happen on stage: Musicians are abundant in the audience. There were plenty of them at Whiskey Lounge, in Evanston, on Thursday night, where a weekly jazz series was marking its one-year anniversary. And it wasn't difficult to guess why the pros had turned out to listen.

For starters, Chicago guitarist Andy Brown was celebrating the release of his eminently appealing new album, the aptly named "Soloist" (Delmark Records), in which Brown plays unaccompanied. Uncounted Chicago jazz artists have collaborated with Brown on club dates and recording sessions, and they know better than anyone the depth of his work and unpretentiousness of his manner.

But that wasn't the only cause for celebration. Thursday evening's event marked the 50th concert that Chicago pianist-impresario Steve Rashid was presenting at Whiskey Lounge, which has developed quite a following, judging by the full house on this occasion.

It's easy to understand why jazz listeners would value this offering. The room which seats 70 at most provides precisely the intimacy on which jazz thrives. Rashid opened the night as the welcoming emcee, encouraging listeners to pay close attention, and, indeed, the room transformed itself into something of a hushed concert hall once the performance began: no one stirred. Food and beverage service was uncommonly discreet, though whoever was noisily mixing drinks in the back of the room might want to pipe down a bit.

The setting gave guitarist Brown the opportunity for a beautifully sonorous set, and he made the most of it. Perhaps it should have come as no surprise that even when he held the stage alone, Brown emerged as a demure soloist, letting the music speak poetically for itself.

The warmth of Brown's sound and elegance of his delivery was apparent throughout the evening, but perhaps nowhere more tellingly than in Rodgers and Hammerstein's "I Have Dreamed" (performed as part of a Hammerstein medley with Jerome Kern's "The Folks Who Live on the Hill"). Here Brown presented himself as a jazz guitarist unafraid of melody, shaping the grandly arching main theme of "I Have Dreamed" with a degree of lyricism and legato not easily achieved on plucked strings. You practically could hear the words as he played the tune.

That same ardency of phrase emerged in up-tempo material, as in Dietz and Schwartz's "By Myself," the piece that closes the "Soloist" album. Even as rhythms surged forward, Brown took pains to keep the theme in the listener's ear.

Not everything, however, was quite so genteel. In "Freak of the Week," by John Coates, Jr., Brown emphasized funky chords, crazy syncopations and a gritty blues manner (well, gritty by Brown's easy-on-the-ears sensibility, anyway). And in "Drum Boogie," also from the "Soloist" album, Brown produced copious melodic invention, one riff answering another, one line tumbling into the next and the next.

After the first set, impresario Rashid began an onstage interview with Brown, another distinctive feature of the Thursday-night sessions at Whiskey Lounge. For those who couldn't make the show, the proceedings were live-streamed at steverashidpresents.com, where past performances are archived for online viewing.

It all adds up to a clever and entrepreneurial way of presenting jazz, giving Chicago-area listeners yet another attractive forum for the music.

Howard Reich also wrote this review of "Soloist" for the Chicago Tribune:

Brilliant New Albums
March 11, 2015 | By Howard Reich

Chicago clubgoers know Brown from his prolific appearances as headliner or sideman in all the city's major rooms, where he stands as an understated player who lets the music speak for itself. By the very nature of this solo recording, however, Brown for the first time basks in a spotlight he thoroughly deserves. Playing alone on a recording � and sustaining listener interest through 14 tracks poses considerable challenges, and Brown addresses them with grace and aplomb. For starters, there's the sound of his playing: warm, full and resonant at all tempos and in various moods. Indeed, Brown packs so much melodic, harmonic and rhythmic information into each cut that one very nearly forgets a single instrument is at play. Taking on mostly jazz standards, he brings forth ample poetry in "Dancing in the Dark" and buoyant forward motion in "Stompin' at the Savoy," gently undulating rhythm in "Estate" and lovely intermingling of melodic strands in "By Myself." If "Soloist" stands as a kind of tour de force, that's due to its innate musicality more than to Brown's ultrasleek, seemingly effortless technique.

I've got a lot of fun gigs in April. Check here for a night to come listen to jazz guitar!

Andy Brown


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