FAME Review: Thom Douvan - Brother Brother
Thom Douvan - Brother Brother

Brother Brother

Thom Douvan

Available from CD Baby.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

Have ya ever wondered what's going to be, generations from now, the successor to the Great American Songbook? I have. At the moment, we've got Classic Rock, but that's not what will determine the seminal next wave of nostalgia like Tin Pan Alley and the Songbook has for our parent's generations. Oddly, I can't even begin to say what the fare will be composed of, but I think Thom Douvan is kinda forecasting what's to come. The guy now jets between L.A. and the Bay Area (S.F.), but his heart and soul reside in Motor City, where he once gigged on bandstands with the rightly memorialized session cats known as the Funk Bros., soul kindred to The Wrecking Machine and other awesome Jacks of the music trade.

Douvan, a guitarist, isn't interested in gloryhogging or pyrotechnics, preferring 'the soul groove', and he exhibits something here I've never seen before: the main rotation of guest musicians on Brother Brother is a collection of five classic drummers—James Gadson, Ralph Penland, Mike Barsimento, Tony Moore, and Frank Wilson. Then he turned to the work of Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, Marvin Gaye, Hall & Oates, the Isleys, and others to amalgamate a set of present and upcoming classics. Flanked not only by those drummers but also an atmospheric Hammond and sax (no bass!, now that's a switch in funky instrumental jazz), Douvan demonstrates a sweet clear sound akin to Larry Carlton's but set back many years into Burrell, Green, and Montgomery territory with touches of Gale, Tropea, Upchurch, and others.

The generous 15 cuts here are firmly laid in the old Kudu, CTI, and similar rock-jazz sides that once were much too readily dismissed as 'novelty', 'too akin to disco', and other groundless charges but have, in the last two decades, undergone serious re-examination. Of course, the irony is that most of the best disco and similar musics boasted some of the topmost session cats (Gadd, Tropea, etc.), a cast of dexterous hands in a sub-culture that held huge enamorment for the Funk Bros…and Brother Brother is dedicated to two who passed away in 2002: John Griffith and Pistol Allen.

Without that period of music, there would have been no Grover Washington, no Bob James, no Shakatak, or any of the later dance floor, smooth groove, and Wave musics. All of these were prefigured in what Douvan's trotting out for us, and, man, did he ever make the right choice in Duncan McMillan on that Hammond, a guy who not only understands Jimmy Smith and Jack McDuff but also Brian Auger. Douvan and McMillan shine no more clearly than on Tony! Toni! Tone!'s Anniversary, a oasis of calm pastoral beauty for our presently jacked-up frantic world. And what I've so far written of only barely scratches the surface! You've got a heck of a lot more to check out than I've covered, so pour yourself a drink, turn the damned TV off, sit back in a comfortable lounger, and just drift away to times gone by…and hopefully to come again.

Track List:

  • Harvest for the World (Isley / Isley / Isley / Isley / Isley / Jasper)
  • That's the Way of the World b(White / Stepney / White)
  • For the Love of You (Isley / Isley / Isley / Isley / Isley / Jasper)
  • Anniversary (Saadiq / Wheeler)
  • Ain't Nobody (D. Wolinski)
  • You're Welcome, Stop On By (Womack / Thomas)
  • What's Going On (Gaye / Cleveland / Benson)
  • Sara Smile (Kall / Oates)
  • Isn't She Lovely? (S. Wonder)
  • So Amazing (L. Vandross)
  • With You I'm Born Again (Shire / Connors)
  • What You Won't Do For Love (Caldwell / Kettner)
  • The Water Is Wide (traditional)
  • Someday We'll All Be Free (Hathaway / Howard)
  • If I Ain't Got You (A. Keys)

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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