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His Name Is Alive: Sweet Earth Flower: A Tribute to Marion Brown

Fifteen years after Marion Brown’s last recording, an obscure rock band from Detroit finally recognizes his majestic music. His Name Is Alive grasps that the free-jazz altoist is most importantly a tunesmith; the marvels crafted on Sweet Earth Flower-a mixture of live and studio tracks-are directly in the service of Brown’s melodies, not his style.

Not that HNIA’s versions can’t sound like Brown’s: “Geechee Recollections” (actually “Once Upon a Time,” from the 1973 Geechee Recollections LP) is remarkably faithful to the West African-sounding original. But the band’s interest is in what accentuates the tunes themselves. On “Sweet Earth Flying” and the once-cartwheeling “Juba Lee Brown,” that means establishing a dense drone (relying heavily on Erik Hall’s electric piano) like a fog from which the understated melodies, played on trumpet, saxophone and piano, emerge.

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