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Monday, October 24, 2011
MEL BROWN - THE WIZARD / BLUES FOR WE
Two stone killers from an ultra-hip guitarist! The Wizard is one of the key records in Mel Brown's legendary run for Impulse Records – a set that's grittier than most other sides recorded for the label in the 60's, but which also has the tight funky undercurrent we've come to expect from groovy Impulse too! Brown's got a strong blues lineage in his instrument, but he plays it here with a lean, mean style that's mighty nice – no cliches at all, and some of the funky jazz vibe you'd hear from Melvin Sparks or Grant Green on their late 60's work for Blue Note. The group's small, too – which helps keep things tight – and other players include Terry Evans on rhythm guitar, Mack Johnson on trumpet, Clifford Solomon on tenor, Ronald Brown on bass, and Paul Humphrey on drums. Titles include a monster version of "Ode to Billie Joe", plus "Swamp Fever", "African Sweets", "Stop", "Miss An", "W2 Withholding", and "Chunk a Funk". Blues For We is a record that's a lot more jazz than you'd guess from the title – a seminal set from the mighty Mel Brown! The "blues" here are hardly the familiar kind – and instead, the album really stresses the more soul-based sound of Mel Brown's work – thanks to some very groovy arrangements from Artie Butler! Tracks have a vamping, stomping sort of sound that's all-soul all the way through – using both Mel's guitar and some of his vocals to top some wonderful grooves from Artie – all done up in the best mix of soul jazz and more conventional vibes that was going down at Verve and Impulse in the late 60's. The tunes are all plenty hip too – with titles that include a great version of Tom Scott's "Freaky Zeke", plus Mel's own takes on "Son Of A Preacher Man", "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da", "Indian Giver", and "Set Me Free". Source: Dusty Groove.