Ray Brown

Live from New York to Tokyo

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This two-fer reissue combines two live albums released by the Ray Brown Trio in the 1980s, The Red Hot Ray Brown Trio, featuring pianist Gene Harris and drummer Mickey Roker along with bassist Brown, recorded at the Blue Note nightclub in New York in November and December 1985, and Bam Bam Bam, with the trio consisting of Brown, Harris, and drummer Jeff Hamilton, cut in December 1988 at the 2,000-seat Kan-i Hoken Hall in Toyko. Harris, whom Brown had lured from obscurity and retirement in Idaho, was something of the bassist's protégé during this period, so it is not surprising that Brown actually takes a back seat on much of the music here, allowing Harris to be showcased. To listen to these albums, you would think Harris, not Brown, was the leader. The bassist does reserve at least one important solo for himself in each set, giving an expressive arco introduction to the surprising selection "Love Me Tender" (the Elvis Presley song) on the first disc and returning to the bow on an attractive interpretation of Rodgers & Hammerstein's "If I Loved You" from Carousel on the second. Hamilton also gets some spotlight time on the second disc, notably with a showy solo during "Rio" and a hand-drumming part in "A Night in Tunisia." But it's Harris who carries the programs in each concert, and he proves an imaginative soloist, particularly during a version of Gershwin's "Summertime" in Tokyo that has the enthusiastic audience clapping along. The pianist could ask for nothing more than the platform Brown has provided for him on these albums.

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