Friday, March 25, 2016

Andy Brown Quartet, Direct Call

Andy Brown's new quartet album Direct Call (Delmark 5023) opens with a rousing version of the classic Rabbit/Duke number "The Jeep is Jumping" to clear space for an artful set. Brown shows us a refreshing take on electric guitar artistry that owes something to the swing-bop nexus that Charlie Christian made so irresistible and others that came after like Barney Kessel worked through into a modern jazz guitar style. This music reminds us that the human prehensile grip not only has enabled us to do cool things like fashion spears, paint masterpieces, but also has given us the ability (for some anyway) to play the guitar like a mother, and of course to invent and craft the instrument in the first place.

So this album makes us glad of that, surely. The album does not rest with "Jeep" but continues on for a program of standards and originals that compliments his earlier album Soloist (type that in index box for my review) with a swinging quartet date and makes us further realize just how excellent a guitarist we have here.

He has very sympatico bandmates in pianist Jeremy Kahn (with some greatly swinging and hip solo time and the kind of comping that really drives everything ahead), bassist Joe Policastro and drummer Phil Gratteau. The rhythm gets it all going, setting up the Brown doings in all the right ways.

Andy has had all the schooling and knows what to do with it, that is clear. And while he digs into the stylistic block swing-bop he adroitly manages to avoid the cliches and come up with his own performative niceties.

It is an album all guitarists and all their friends will find hard not to like. It boils over with guitar brilliance. You must hear this! Then you must smile! Well, not must, but I do think you will. I did. I am smiling to myself right now!

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