Guillermo E. Brown

Soul at the Hands of the Machine

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Drummer Guillermo E. Brown burst onto the progressive jazz circuit via his performances and recordings with forward-thinking saxophonists David S. Ware and Rob Reddy amid various projects and sessions. His first solo release finds the artist carrying the torch for Thirsty Ear's somewhat futuristic "Blue Series." Brown, with assistance from multi-reedmen Daniel Carter and Andre Vidal, among others, delivers a decisively high-tech outing, awash with funk, trip-hop, and more. The drummer lays down a series of complex electro-acoustic beats in concert with the ambient electronic soundscapes and the woodwind performers' often willowy lines. Brown also receives assistance from vocalist Latasha Natasha Diggs, who provides some downright enigmatic vocalese on four pieces. A few of these works might be reminiscent of what Herbie Hancock's Headhunters were doing back in the '70s. Yet, advances in digital instrumentation and effects processing clearly distinguish this outing from anything that may have been produced back in the '70s or '80s. Brown seems to be having some good-natured fun throughout this nicely produced effort, which is a culmination of cleverly orchestrated sounds and mini-themes. He also melds some odd-metered shuffle and swing vibes into his groove-oriented attack. It might seem like there is a bit too much going on at once in some instances or passages; however, Brown's clear-sighted direction and conspicuously novel approach reap considerable dividends.

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