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Norman Brown: West Coast Coolin’

Smooth-jazz guitarist Norman Brown steps out as a singer on West Coast Coolin’ (Warner Bros.). Brown has a pleasant, soft-toned singing voice that he uses to good effect on vocal tracks such as the R&B ballad “Angel,” the grooving, hip-hop-flavored “Come Over,” and “I Might,” a duet performed over a spacious, unhurried funk groove. Brown makes Marvin Gaye’s classic “What’s Going On” his own by giving it a shuffling rhythm and improvising around the melody. While his singing adds a new element to his artistry, Brown’s strength is still his dexterous guitar playing, and he offers plenty of that on the album. He scats along with his guitar on a number of tracks, while several others are straight instrumentals, like the horn-shaded “Up ‘n’ at ‘Em,” the laid-back Wes Montgomery-esque title track and “Remember the Time,” which ends the album on a bright, uptempo note.

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