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CD Review: Alex Brown - Pianist

With a Bachelor degree from New England Conservatory where he studied with Danilo Perez, Alex Brown is a richly inventive improviser with a good sense of melody. My first contact with Alex Brown music was a couple of years back when I saw him playing in the Puerto Rico Heineken Jazz Fest with a group of talented Berkeley jazz students called La Timbistica, that included another young virtuoso, Puerto Rican flutist Kalani Trinidad. I was pretty impressed by these young musicians and knew back then, that live performance was just the beginning of great things to come for these guys. It turns out I was right, Kalani just released his first record in 2011 and pianist Alex Brown just released his debut album Pianist.

In "Prologue", a mix of funk, latin beats and Jazz, Brown style and phrasing with its ostinato melody themes are reminiscent of the jazz fusion of pianist Chick Corea. Brown even dedicate the composition "Elektric" to Corea.

The tempo slow down for "Waltz", the Danzon-like "Leaving" and the jazz ballad "Warm Blooded", relaxed pieces with thoughtful solos by Brown on piano and Vivek Patel on the flugelhorn.

On his debut album, Brown reveals himself also as an outstanding composer. His music has a strong latin influence as it can be heard all throghout the album especially on tracks like "The Wrong Jacket". This track contains rhythms similar to those of the Puerto Rican bomba and even some piano montunos played by Brown.

"The Wrong Jacket", "Buleria" and the brazilian choro by Pixinguinha "Lamentos" includes the wonderful saxophone and clarinet of special guest and mentor, Paquito D'Rivera. Brown is the pianist in D'Rivera group. The album close with a complex, kind of funky arrangement of Cole Porter "Just one of those things".

Musicians: Alex Brown - piano, Paquito D'Rivera - alto saxophone, clarinet, Vivek Patel - flugelhorn, Ben Williams - bass, Eric Doob - drums, Warren Wolf - marimba, Pedro Martinez, percussion

Tracks: Prologue, Warm Blooded, The Wrong Jacket, Lamentos, Elektric, Waltz, Buleria, Leaving, Just one of those things

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Wilbert Sostre