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Paul Brown – One Way Back

Feb. 25, 2017

In my review of guitarist Marc Antoine’s Laguna Beach, I mentioned a technical snafu that snatched away my previously penned review of that release. Here is one more (and hopefully the last that fell victim to the mishap).

Guitar master Paul Brown has been a figure in smooth jazz larger than life ever since his studio session work and producer-only days to his debut release Up Front back in 2004 and to date with his latest One Way Back. This latest album is solidly packed with full-bodied C-jazz and danceable grooves as only he can produce them.

Loading the album with colleagues who contribute mightily (guitarists Peter White, Marc Antoine, Chris Standring (who, on “Piccadilly Circus,” plays a number of other instruments), Chuck Loeb, saxmen Greg Vail and Darren Rahn, and bassist Roberto Vally, among many others), Brown again charms with his signature magical mix of jazz, soul, R&B, blues, and slick funk on tracks like his only cover on the album (the late, great Joe Sample’s “Put It Where You Want It”), the saucy “Sexy Thang,” the smooth “Hush,” the in-the-pocket “Piccadilly Circus” (of course, this cat lives in the pocket) featuring Standring wearing the multi-instrumentalist hat here, the suave and laid-back (not mention melody-rich) “River Walk” – one of my faves – and the tight & bluesy up-tempo “Well Alright” featuring impressive vocals by Don Bryant.

I would be grossly remiss if I didn’t mention two of my other faves here, the extremely well-done “Take Flight” and the title track, both stepping with mellow, soulful gaits and tons of oomph and rich melody. My kind of tunes.

In a word, the album is classic Paul Brown. Not a frown to be found anyway here. Get it (if you haven’t already), embrace it, and fall in love with it — as I know you will. – Ronald Jackson