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Ray Brown/Monty Alexander/Russell Malone: Ray Brown/Monty Alexander/Russell Malone

The late bassist Ray Brown’s last recording is in the spirit of the Oscar Peterson Trio and of the group that inspired it, the Nat “King” Cole Trio. The music is centered in the Cole-Peterson tradition of good feeling, harmonic subtlety and rhythmic togetherness. Brown and guitarist Russell Malone achieve a seductive swing reminiscent not only of Brown’s with Herb Ellis in the Peterson trio, but, at times, also of Freddie Green’s with Walter Page in Count Basie’s band. Malone’s rhythm-guitar work is impressive. His solos indicate that he has reached a new level of consistency and clarity.

Following pianist Monty Alexander’s recent concentration on Caribbean idioms, interesting though they may be, it is good to hear him again in a straightahead setting. His piano work has always been based in great part on Nat Cole’s lyricism, touch and chord voicings, elements he long ago absorbed as he developed his own style. There is also a rich Peterson component in Alexander’s approach, as well as streak of whimsy that leads him to the strategic placement of quotes (a bit of “Filthy McNasty” in “Django,” for example). Along with Peterson and Gene Harris, he was one of Brown’s preferred pianists.

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