Charles Brown was more a crooner than a blues singer in the classic sense, but everything he did was based in the blues, and he almost single-handedly created the cool, jazz-inflected West Coast blues style in the mid-'40s. This attractive little set collects his earliest recordings on Philo Records while he was a member of Johnny Moore's Three Blazers combo, including the influential "Driftin' Blues" from 1945 and the holiday classic "Merry Christmas Baby" from 1947, along with Brown's subsequent solo records after Philo morphed into Aladdin Records, most notably his definitive take on Jessie Mae Robinson's stark "Black Night" from 1951, as well as a couple of early-'60s holiday recordings from King Records. The rhythmically interesting "Rockin' Blues" is also worth pointing out here, sounding as it does like an improbable mix of Slim Harpo and Nat King Cole. The later King recordings sound sonically a little out of place, but the overall feel of this set makes it a decent introduction to Brown's jazzy take on the blues. Oh, and pay attention to his piano playing. He was the complete package.
AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett