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Donald Brown: The Sweetest Sounds

Donald Brown, bassist Charnett Moffett, and drummer Al Dawson appear on seven tracks during this 1989 album. They’re joined by vibist Steve Nelson on four others. Brown comes from a line of pianists that includes Erroll Garner, Ahmad Jamal, Red Garland, and Wynton Kelly. He succeeded former college roommate James Williams in Art Blakey’s band and is a highly skilled traditionalist.

Here Brown displays several virtues. He’s a thoughtful, sensitive improviser who swings smoothly and infectiously and plays melodically. Often his work has a gently funky quality. He blends the ideas of pianists who’ve influenced him smoothly, though he himself isn’t very original. Nelson’s also a very competent but not distinctive stylist. Moffett’s work is relatively advanced, but generally this music, while very tasty, was mainstream jazz by the early 1960s.

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