Ray Brown

The Best of the Concord Years

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Ray Brown was in at the beginning of the Concord Jazz record label in the early '70s, and starting with Brown's Bag in 1975, he recorded a dozen albums as a leader for Concord before departing for Telarc Records in the early '90s. This two-disc compilation, with a running time of almost two hours and 20 minutes, presents 24 selections drawn from 19 Concord Jazz albums recorded between 1973 and 1993, including live performances at the Concord Jazz Festivals, recordings by Brown's trio and the L.A. 4, and a Brown duet with Jimmy Rowles, among other configurations. As a bass player, Brown only rarely solos, so one usually notices the horn players (Harry "Sweets" Edison, Red Holloway, Plas Johnson, Richie Kamuca, Blue Mitchell, Ralph Moore, and Bud Shank), the pianists (Monty Alexander, George Duke, Gene Harris, Art Hillery, and Rowles), or other frontline musicians (guitarists Laurindo Almeida, Herb Ellis, and Joe Pass, violinist John Frigo) before the rhythm section. But even when Brown isn't stepping out, he is maintaining the group's swing, along with drummers John Guerin, Jeff Hamilton, Jake Hanna, Gerryck King, Shelly Manne, Mickey Roker, and Jimmie Smith, and he also wrote a number of the tunes. Brown had done relatively few sessions as a leader in the 30 years of his career prior to his association with Concord, so, while the label owes him a lot, he also was enabled to flourish with the company in a way he had not before, and that is reflected in this well-chosen compilation.

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