A buddy in an Art class long ago turned me onto Hank Crawford, Grover Washington, and other gents of the mello-groove, and those cats helped develop in me a taste for the soft-side musics that would soon, unfortunately, co-spawn the dangerous New Age / Jazz Lite Era incorporating remnants of the Mantovani/101 Strings Age. I'd already been swooned by Lonnie Liston Smith, so Hank 'n Grover added to the oeuvre. Soon, though, Yanni, John Tesh, and Kenny G emerged, God help us, and air-dropped tons of C&H sugar on all and sundry. With that move, jazz, and especially cool jazz, damn near died The Death, only recently regaining what it lost, especially in saxophone musics. John Brown, a bass player, has gathered a sparkling ensemble to help things along, and Quiet Time is the result.
Readers may recall my mention of John in his Christmas CD with Nnenna Freelon (here), not just for charts and bass playing but also that way the hell cool vocal duet with her on Baby, It's Cold Outside. On that outing, he captained a jumpin', swingin', hip band to accompany the frisky Freelon, a woman who can't be held down, so don't even think about trying, Jackson, but here he's put together an immaculate quintet covering a range of judiciously chosen tracks from composers we know but some of whose gems frequently aren't given the attention due them. A case in point is my favorite track on this disc, a nine-minute take on Dr. Lonnie Smith's …and the Willow Weeps, so delicious it's worthy of placing alongside Marvin Gaye's monumental work on the Trouble Man soundtrack. Though everyone on the CD's a top-flight player, saxist Brian Miller knocks it out of the ball park every single time he's at bat, and, lord, does he ever lay it all out on this one!
The cut also bares the explanation for the creation of Quiet Time while stretching that raison d'être out to an unexpectedly profound extrapolation brimming over with raw but refined classic heart and soul. Amid the hustle, bustle, turmoil, and insanities of present-day society, Brown decided it was well past time to concoct something that would put people back in their right minds and just temperaments, force 'em to pause for a while, dial it down, and savor the slow good things. In doing so, he really dug deep for how to get right to that and still invest the affair with ridiculously good musicianship. James Taylor and Elvin Jones are among the composer cognoscenti chosen and even Barry Manilow, whom I'm not terribly nuts about but never knew he penned a cut with Johnny Mercer, a good'un!, a long sad blue note in distinct adagio mode. What next? Lars Ulrich and Joni Mitchell recreating Court and Spark?
Brown contributed one original song, the title cut, and it indexes beautifully with everything here. Then the arrangement of Taylor's Don't Let Me be Lonely Tonight is practically a wholly different song, but I'm telling you that if you aren't slain in the spirit by …and the Willow Weeps, then you need to contact me for a free one-way ticket to Mars because you really don't belong on this planet. And I'll include a copy of John Klemmer's and Earl Klugh's much earlier releases in the same vein so you can work up to Mr. Brown's Quiet Time, which will be arriving much later by the Post Office's new drone-satellite service. Don't, however, let the Venusians get ahold of any of it. You know how the goddess of love gets when she lays hold of really good romantic music.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles