Brown Sugar marks a turning point for Freddie Roach: It's the moment he decided to get dirty, funky, and soulful. Previously, he had plenty of funk in his playing, but he was tasteful, at times a little bit too tasteful. On Brown Sugar, he simply burns. The album is devoted to blues, R&B, and soul, with the title track (the lone original on the album) functioning as a rallying cry of sorts. Roach is hotter than ever, but he never overplays or overloads the organ; whether it's slow blues or smoking R&B, he gets deep into the groove and works it hard, without neglecting to contribute compelling solos. And if you're looking for compelling solos, tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson proves that he is as exceptional with R&B and soul-jazz as he is with hard bop. Clarence Johnston, Roach's longtime drummer, provides stable support and guitarist Eddie Wright has his moments as well, helping make Brown Sugar the standout item in Roach's catalog.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine