Chicago jazz guitarist Brown has released a steady stream of albums, some accompanying vocalist/wife Petra van Nuis and one co-leading a quartet with Howard Alden. But solo guitar is his favored format, inspired by legends Lenny Breau, Joe Pass, Ted Greene, and George Van Eps.
Such an outing during the worldwide pandemic seems logical, but the 45-year-old completed the CD prior to the shutdown, getting a beautifully warm but round and clear tone via his ’66 Gibson Tal Farlow archtop through a ’65 Fender Vibrolux.
A collection of jazz standards can set off a not that again alarm for some, but the so-called Great American Songbook is the ultimate litmus test for a jazzer. It’s what one does with the well-worn tunes (tempo, rhythmic motif, how much adherence to the melody), as well as which standards are included.
Brown’s facility and harmonic vocabulary are a given; it’s his interpretive skills that set him apart. Baden Powell’s “Berimbau” is seductive and hypnotic, while Vangelis’ “Love Theme from Blade Runner” is lush and floating. And along with Django Reinhardt’s less-traveled “Belleville,” compositions by Oscar Pettiford and Nicholas Brodszky make the cut.
If you haven’t checked out Andy Brown, here’s your chance.
This article originally appeared in VG’s June 2021 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.