Charles Brown

In a Grand Style

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This posthumously released material -- mostly classic and classy love songs -- puts an exclamation point on the career of a true American music legend, a legitimate grand master in more ways than one. It is not, as the back cover states, a "solo piano album." Charles Brown does, in fact, sing on all the cuts save one, but there's no rhythm section or soloist to help. It's simply Charles Brown, all soulful, with light-colored blues, gently swinging but by himself. There are classics like "Black Night," "Stumbled and Fell in Love," the curious "One Never Knows, Does One?" and Little Walter's slightly raucous "Give Me a Woman." Brown's classical background on "Charles' Chopin Liszt" unleashes a cascading, tinkling, arpeggiated side rarely heard. Other intros also showcase this part of Brown's musicianship. Everything on the record, except for "Liszt," is a slow, cigarette-type smoldering blues that is sometimes downhearted, other times hopeful. But the lyrics of Brown's original "Wouldn't It Be Grand" speaks volumes about his hope for our future: "Wouldn't that be grand, if and when we die, we unite together in the sky/Get together, take our stand, glory land/Wouldn't that be grand."

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