Marion Brown

Sweet Earth Flying

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The second installment of his "Georgia" trilogy, Sweet Earth Flying is arguably Marion Brown's finest work and certainly one of the underappreciated treasures of '70s jazz. Again, the words and ideas of poet Jean Toomer underlie Brown's conception (hence the album's title), though this time (unlike the appearance of Karintha on Geechee Recollections) none of Toomer's actually poetry is utilized. Instead, he calls into service the remarkable keyboard paring of Muhal Richard Abrams and Paul Bley, an inspiration that pays off in spades. The two pianists alternate acoustic and electric keyboards, bringing a slight tinge of the propulsiveness of Miles Davis' late-'60s bands, but with a grace, soul, and sense of freedom rarely achieved by Corea and Jarrett. In fact, Abrams' feature on Part Five of the title suite is one of the single most beautiful and cogent statements he ever created. Brown's sound on both soprano and alto has a unique quality; he tends to sound tentative and innocently hesitant when first entering, only to gather strength as he goes, reaching utter conviction along the way. Special mention must be made of vocalist Bill Hasson. He's featured on only one piece, but his deep-voiced recitation in a language of his own construction (drawing from West Africa, Brazil, the Caribbean, and North American down-home English) is a very special treat indeed. Very highly recommended to open-eared jazz fans of all tastes.

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