Jack Brownlow

Suddenly It's Bruno

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Jack Brownlow was born in Wenatchee, a small town in Washington State, the birthplace of another fine musician, bop saxophonist Don Lanphere. After moving to Seattle, Brownlow became a fixture as a local pianist as well as a teacher of music and harmony instructing such jazz luminaries as Randy Brecker, Jay Thomas, Rufus Reid, and others. Brownlow has been performing professionally at least since the early 1950s and Suddenly It's Bruno is just his second album as a leader and his first for an independent label. Brownlow's harmonic inventiveness is put to excellent use on this delightful piano trio album. The trio quietly, but resolutely, wends their way through 11 standards and two Brownlow originals. The playing is relaxed and contemplative requiring attentive listening to catch all the nuances. Everything is tasteful about this session, even the drum breaks are done in a manner that doesn't intrude upon the breezy, calm ambience. Brownlow is joined on this set by well-established and respected Seattle musicians. Jeff Johnson glitters on bass, while Dean Hodges and Jason Vontver share drum duties.

There is not a bad track on the CD -- from the first cut, a sparkling rendition of the title tune "Suddenly It's Spring," to the last track, "Detour Ahead," where Brownlow does some inventive improvising backed by Johnson's bass recalling Bill Evans/Scott LaFaro collaborations. In between, there are delights like "When You Wish Upon a Star," "I Fall in Love Too Easily," and "If I Should Lose You," which are given the respect they deserve by Brownlow and his group. Johnson's bass is especially lyrical on "When I Wish..." J.J. Johnson's melodic "Lament" once again confirms that simply stated musical themes can be as satisfying as more complex musical forms. This track is straightforward piano playing at its very best. Brownlow's own "The Leaves" with its slight bossa nova beat is a minor diversion from the general rhythmic pattern of the album. Brownlow recognizes his debt to Bill Evans with a sparkling rendition of "Orbits." Suddenly It's Bruno is highly recommended.

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