Wynton Marsalis / Black Cultured Pearl

Goin' Down Home

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Released in 1999 by the German West Wind label, Goin' Down Home documents some of singer Pearl Brown's live performances with trumpeter Wynton Marsalis in the Canadian province of British Columbia. This CD, which also contains some studio recordings that don't feature Marsalis, is decent and enjoyable but not mind-blowing. Brown isn't a remarkable singer, but she's a pleasant, likable one whose main influences include Billie Holiday and Dinah Washington. She is not a belter or a screamer; like Holiday, Brown favors subtlety and restraint. Nonetheless, she gets her points across on familiar standards like "Lover Man" (a gem that Lady Day defined in 1944), "Stormy Monday," and "Blue Skies." Marsalis, who provides his share of noteworthy solos, is the only American musician on the CD. The other players are Vancouver residents such as Oliver Gannon (guitar), Lorne Kellet (piano), Torben Oxbol (bass), and John Nolan (drums). Whenever Marsalis solos, one is reminded of his progress. There was a time when Marsalis sounded like a poor man's Miles Davis, but by 1991 he had blossomed into a very recognizable and expressive player. Though one can cite influences ranging from Louis Armstrong to Clifford Brown, the Marsalis heard on this CD is very much his own man. Similarly, Pearl Brown is her own person despite her obvious admiration for Billie Holiday. Goin' Down Home isn't a masterpiece, but it's respectable.

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