Ray Brown Trio with Gene Harris - Soular Energy
Posted By : apache | Date : 11 Apr 2007 18:25:00 | Comments : 11 |
Ray Brown made more recordings with more groups than any bass player in history. During a long and illustrious career that started in the 1940s, he played with jazz legends such as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, Frank Sinatra, Oscar Peterson, and Tony Bennett. He was married to Ella Fitzgerald for a time, and consistently won Playboy jazz polls. Ray Brown is my favorite acoustic bass player, bar none. Sadly, he passed away in his sleep on July 2, 2002.
There have been various incarnations of the Ray Brown Trio over the years, but in my opinion, the best ones always featured pianist Gene Harris. Ray Brown and Gene Harris seem to energize one another, resulting in rarefied heights of creativity. One of the most famous recordings featuring these two artists is Soular Energy. They went into the studio with drummer Gerryck King with no rehearsal, working out the tunes until they felt right. The result was spontaneity, creativity, and a recording that just feels good to listen to. This album consists mostly of standards, and was recorded for Concord Records in 1984 and released the following year. It has now been re-released in stunning sound on the Pure Audiophile label.
The music on this release always swings and often jumps. There is a healthy mix of up-tempo and slower selections. My favorite track is the one that was written by Ray Brown, the "Mistreated But Undefeated Blues," in which Red Holloway blows up a storm on the tenor sax, and Emily Remler lends some tasty guitar licks, temporarily turning this trio into a red-hot quintet. Many of the cuts are propelled along by Gene Harris' signature rolling riffs on the piano, especially in evidence on the first cut, "Exactly Like You."
The final element is the blue vinyl. It's not a gimmick. The blue vinyl is stiffer, and reproduces the high frequencies better. Black vinyl contains lamp black, which softens the vinyl, which in turn softens the highs. The difference is not subtle. Dennis Cassidy of Pure Audiophile kindly provided me with a black vinyl pressing for comparison. The black vinyl sounded relatively muted, rolled off, and more like a good recording and less like live music. I first did this comparison on Pure Audiophile's first release, Karrin Allyson's Ballads. There it was surprisingly instructive, but on the Ray Brown the difference kind of hit me in the face. It made me wish that my whole record collection was pressed on blue vinyl (or some other color not containing lamp black). But the blue vinyl is translucent, which makes quality control (visual inspection) very difficult, while with an opaque black disc it is relatively easy. Whoever did the quality control on this pressing at RTI did a commendable job ... these pressings are dead quiet.
So there you have it, folks. Get right to your favorite method of negotiating commercial transactions and buy this release. The production run is very limited. If you miss it, you'll be quite sorry later if you ever happen to hear a copy played on a good system.
Pure Audiophile is a new label that is doing things right. Dennis Cassidy has plans to release more Ray Brown in the future. And that is sweet music to these ears. Bravo.
Sound: 10 Performance: 10 Music: 10
1. Exactly Like You (McHugh/Fields)
2. Cry Me a River (A.Hamilton)
3. Teach Me Tonight (Cahn/DePaul)
4. Take the "A" Train (B.Strayhorn)
5. Mistreated But Undefeated Blues (R.Brown)
6. That's All (Brandt/Haymes)
7. Easy Does It (Basie/Russel)
8. Sweet Georgia Brown (Bernie/Pinkard/Casey)
Ray Brown / b
Gene Harris / p
Gerryck King / ds
Red Holloway / ts (5)
Emily Remler / g (5)
recorded August, 1984 at Coast Recorders, San Francisco, CA
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