Rob Brown / Rob Brown Quartet

Jumping Off the Page

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Alto saxophonist and flutist Rob Brown is often featured in the context of other leaders' recordings as an inventive improviser who has enough of the early AACM in him to stretch time, space, and harmonic ideas, and enough of the late-'50s hard bop tradition in his playing to make whatever he involves himself in move. This being only his third date as a leader, it's difficult to see why. Brown is a fiery player and an inspiring bandleader. With a harsh yet rich tone that comes out of the Anthony Braxton school of alto blowing, he careens through rapid successions of crisscrossing melody lines in "Twinkle," the opener, trading fours and overtones with Roy Campbell's trumpet. With a rhythm section comprised of the young Chris Lightcap on bass and Jackson Krall on drums, this quartet has enough heat to share a bandstand with anybody. Over seven compositions, Brown reveals how brevity is the key to dragging ideas out of his players. He is always firmly in charge, but in a capacity that is nurturing musically. There are places, such as on "Like a Top" and "Step With Care," where his own development in the Ornette Coleman school of melodic free improvisation shines forth as it leads the quartet into places it could never have expected to go. In all, this is an awesome example of the new jazz coming from New York.

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