Ray Brown . Monty Alexander . Russell Malone

Telarc CD-83562

Ray Brown, bass; Monty Alexander, piano; Russell Malone, guitar

No title, just three names - one of which is no longer with us. This is Ray Brown's last recording. One could hardly have hoped for a better exposition of the man's art. Here is Brown, booming along in the background, providing a great majesty of sound. Of course, Brown never was just a rhythm section guy, his solos were as inventive as anybody else's, and more articulate than most. The bass, piano and guitar format is obviously reminiscent of the earlier trio dates with Oscar Peterson and Herb Ellis, but there is no real hookup because these three men are obviously of their own ilk.

The music here is so solid that one would have wished the interaction could have taken place long ago. Brown was something like 20 older than Alexander, and Malone is 20 years younger still. Although your reviewer admits to insufficient knowledge of his work, this could be Malone's best date. His aptitude, command and sheer rhythmic sense, together with some marvelously elegant solo runs, makes the younger man a worthy member of the trio. Seldom have three musicians produced such wonderfully uncluttered swing. Alexander cooks with the best and - oh, hell, the music is just too good to attempt any kind of critique. There can't many real jazz fans who will not love this recording. It is perfectly - and since Ray Brown most certainly went to heaven - divine. There is also a bonus. Elaine Martone, Ray Brown's producer with Telarc, has assembled a sampler (making this a limited edition double) covering some of Brown's recordings from 1993 to 2001. This presents more of Brown the soloist. There is a gloriously loopy St. Louis Blues with Ahmad Jamal and then selected recordings with all of those musicians who were obviously some of Ray's best friends. Get out there and buy it. This must not be missed.

by Lawrence Brazier

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