Half Notes: Ray Brown with Oscar Peterson and Milt Jackson – The Very Tall Band (1999)

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by Nick DeRiso

Ray Brown is one of those underrated guys who kept on producing important work well past his so-called prime, because he remained such an in-the-pocket guy. You can’t go wrong with the old Jazz at the Philharmonic stuff, of course. But I also typically recommend his late-period work on Telarc, as well.

Ray Brown first appeared on the label on some of its first major non-classical releases, debuting in 1989 with Andre Previn and Mundell Lowe on “After Hours.” So-so, but then he got hot: Brown’s 1993 trio recording (with Benny Green and Jeff Hamilton), called “Bass Face,” is one of my favorite Brown releases ever. (And that includes stints with Oscar Peterson, Count Basie and Dizzy Gillespie.) Critics took notice of the career renaissance: In 1999, Brown won Acoustic Bassist of the Year in Down Beat’s Readers Poll. That came after the thoroughly successful 1999 album with Oscar Peterson and Milt Jackson, called “The Very Tall Band.” Oh, I’ve burned this one up. Recorded live at the Blue Note in November 1998, we’ve since lost two of its stars.

In 2001, Brown released “SuperBass 2,” another live recording, this time at the Blue Note in New York City. Bassists John Clayton and Christian McBride were featured. “Some of My Best Friends Are… Guitarists,” with John Pizzarelli, Herb Elli, Russell Malone, Ulf Wakenius, Bruce Forman and Kenny Burrell, was also a great installment in Ray Brown’s “Some of My Best Friends Are…” series.

Half Notes is a quick-take music feature on Something Else! Reviews, presented whenever the mood strikes us.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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