Inspired by pianist Lennie Tristano, tenor saxophonist Ted Brown came up in what we now call the cool school of jazz. Saxophonists who played in this style tended to blow in dryer, pastel tones while keeping a rigid sense of time and unspooling long ribbons of improvised lines. Though Brown studied with Tristano, he is in many ways a protege of tenor saxophonist Warne Marsh, with whom he first recorded in 1956.
In 2006 and 2010, Brown's quartet—Brown on tenor saxophone, Jon Easton on piano, Don Messina on bass and Bill Chattin on drums—appeared at Trumpets in Montclair, N.J. Fortunately for us, Don Messina recorded the gigs. The music on Ted Brown Quartet Live at Trumpets (Cadence) is terrific. It's melodic and as dry as a cold glass of Sancerre.
The first five tracks—Somebody Loves Me, Relaxin' at Camarillo, Love Me or Leave Me, Sweet and Lovely, and Broadway were recorded in August 2006, while When You're Smiling, The Thing for You Would be Me, Pennies From Heaven and Anthropology were recorded in August 2010.
What makes this album so special is how all four members of the group operate hand in glove. Brown's horn is delightfully reminiscent of Marsh but with added swing. Easton's piano is impeccable with a strong passion for Tristano. Don's bass throbs throughout and is the instrument that gets your foot tapping. And Chattin's drumming is the sheer fabric that brings everything together, especially when he's on brushes.
Born in Rochester, N.Y., on Dec. 1, 1927, Brown moved iwth his family to Southern California in 1942 when his father was stationed there during World War II. Brown had begun on the banjo, switching to the violin and then the clarinet and tenor saxophone. His uncle taught him the latter two instruments. Brown played with his father, a guitarist who encourage him to improvise and transcribe records. The rest of Brown's bio you can read at his site here. It's quite a fascinating story.
Brown is still with us today at age 89.
This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
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