- Blues'd Out
- Night Train
- If I Could Be With You (One Hour Tonight)
- Rocks In My Bed
- You Don't Know Me
- Jumpin' The Blues
- Don't Forget The Blues
Ray Brown, bass
Ron Eschete, guitar
Al Grey, trombone
Gene Harris, piano and fender rhodes
Grady Tate, drums
Don't Forget The Blues
Ray Brown need not have made the statement "Don't Forget The Blues" in this collection, because the blues have become akin to the pyramids - they will last forever. What form of folk poetry has so encapsulated the entire range of human emotions other than the blues. Traditionally, the blues have been something like an escape valve venting off either joy or sorrow - love or hate. The fact the blues have accomplished its point with minimum verbiage and succintness is one of its endless charms. The blues gets to the point immediately and doesn't "beat around the bush". Nowhere is it more evident than in a song that Lil Green used to sing years ago - "I knew you were jivin' when I took you in". Obviously, there are disastrous results ahead, and the male-female relationship is headed for trouble, but that is the basic charm of the blues. The average soap opera might possibly take a month's performances to put the same idea across as that one line in Lil Green's cogent statement.
It is safe to say that jazz would not have the same impact without the solid foundation of the blues. For a music form which by some standards was considered primitive, it has remained resilient enough so that a player without blues roots is suspect. That cannot be said about the quintet Ray Brown fronts on this date. Each musician has had considerable experience in any number of groups and record sessions over the years, and credentials are firmly established.
Guitarist ron Eschete has recently traveled as a member of a Ray Brown group, and before that with Gene Harris. Gene is remembered affectionately for his early work with "The Three Sounds" and countless sessions since then. Trombonist Al Grey has the capacity to put his smile through the bell of his horn and the result is exceptional. All the important people want Grady Tate on their date, and this session is no exception. As for Ray Brown, his studio time is legendary, to say nothing of the road time.
Blues'd Out opens this session with some positive trombone emphasis from al Grey's finger poppin' tempo, definitely setting the mood for the rest of the date.
Jim has been around for many years, and in this version Gene Harris adds the proper touch of sentiment in switching to the electric keyboard. Ray Brown is also highlighted prominently with appropriate sensitivity.
In blues repertoire, trains have figured prominently, and Night Train is no exception. That familiar train Jimmy Forrest introduced years ago, and the mournful clatter of wheels on track - including some nightime sounds - solidifies the fact that blues and trains do make positive sounds.
Fats Waller's mentor, pianist James P. Johnson, wrote the next piece has been around since the 20's - If I Could Be With You (One Hour Tonight). Al Grey weaves some gentle trombone magic to introduce this sentimental favorite and the mood is then carried on by guitarist Ron Eschete.
Duke Ellington's musical review "Jump For Joy" included the next item - Rocks In My Bed. Ivie Anderson sang on the 1941 Ellington recording but this instrumental blues treatment allows Ron Eschete to draw on every blues strain he has ever heard - to the extent the collective effort goes beyond the blues and is more appropriately indigo.
Eddy Arnold's classic - You Don't Know Me - has all the anguish of lost love, and blues are never more at home than in dealing with the endless misfortunes confronting man and woman. Gene Harris particularly stands out, and the band conveys the proper levels of angst.
Kansas City put the blues into high gear, and Jay McShann's Jumpin' The Blues here is no exception. Drummer Grady Tate wheels this group in the right direction with ho holds barred.
Don't Forget The Blues is Ray Brown's final admonition. There is a churchlike approach to this closing statement with an exactness which is disarming. Another of the positive factors about the blues is its unpretentiousness.
The blues are not a gimmick, nor a fad, and its honesty and lack of affection is the glue which holds it together. Ray Brown needn't worry - how could anyone forget the blues!
(by Felix Grant from the original liner notes)
The huge and comfortable sound of Ray Brown's bass was a welcome feature on bop-oriented sessions for over a half-century. He played locally in his native Pittsburgh in his early days.
Arriving in New York in 1945, on his first day in town Brown met and played with Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, and Bud Powell. He was hired by Gillespie for his small groups and his big band; "One Bass Hit" and "Two Bass Hit" were early features, and he can be seen with Dizzy Gillespie in the 1947 film Jiving in Bebop. Although not a soloist on the level of an Oscar Pettiford, Brown's quick reflexes and ability to accompany soloists in a swinging fashion put him near the top of his field. After playing with Jazz at the Philharmonic, he married Ella Fitzgerald (their marriage only lasted during 1948-1952), and for a time led his own trio to back the singer. Brown recorded with an early version of the Modern Jazz Quartet (under Milt Jackson's leadership), and then became a permanent member of the Oscar Peterson Trio (1951-1966).
With Peterson, the bassist traveled the world, guested with other top jazz artists, was featured on JATP tours, became famous, and recorded constantly. He began playing cello in the late '50s, and used it on a few of his own dates. After leaving Peterson, Brown settled in Los Angeles, worked in the studios, continued recording jazz, and worked as a manager of several artists (including the Modern Jazz Quartet and Quincy Jones). He played with the L.A. Four starting in 1974, did a great deal to revive the careers of Ernestine Anderson and Gene Harris, and recorded extensively for Pablo and Concord. The Ray Brown Trio featured pianists Gene Harris, Benny Green, and Geoff Keezer, along with drummers Jeff Hamilton and Greg Hutchison, and recorded for Concord and Telarc. He continued touring up until his death, dying in his sleep while napping before a show in Indianapolis on July 2, 2002. His last batch of sessions, working as a trio with pianist Monty Alexander and guitarist Russell Malone, were released that fall.
(by Scott Yanow from allmusic.com)