Welcome to the latest issue of Denis Poole’s Secret Garden, the page that offers a British perspective on all that’s good, and not so good, in the world of smooth jazz and classic soul.
Imagine the scene. It’s Wednesday January 19 and the Warren Hill Smooth Jazz Cruise 2005 (WHSJC) has just left Tortola, British Virgin Islands on the next leg of its journey to Nassau, Bahamas. Norman Brown and Peter White are already sharing the billing on the early evening show and Oleta Adams and Rick Braun are lined up to appear later. But there’s a problem. Rick Braun is laid low in his cabin, struck down with the sea sickness that has haunted him all week. He wants to perform but simply can’t.
This was the scenario that was playing out when the event organizers turned to a performer who was about to get them out of trouble yet again. The first time had been a few weeks earlier when Marc Antoine, home in Spain and afflicted by a neck injury, found he would be unable to travel and take his place with the other twelve confirmed artists for the WHSJC. They called Paul Brown, the man with a veritable string of production credits that includes Boney James, Euge Groove, Peter White among many others and who is perhaps most responsible for the way that smooth jazz sounds today. But they didn’t call on him as a producer. They needed the new look Paul Brown who, with his run away debut release Up Front, was one of the smooth jazz success stories of 2004. He joined the ship and then, with Rick Braun indisposed, responded to the call and, at extremely short notice, played his set that had originally been scheduled for Friday.
Brown followed Oleta Adams who, by this time, was turning out to be one of the major delights of the entire week with her incredible vocals, sparky personality and huge stage presence. It was a hard act to follow and when he started out with ‘West Coast Swing’ it seemed the occasion might be too much and, as a result, he seemed just a little ragged around the edges. Thankfully he quickly found his stride and his groove as he regaled the audience with a selection from the Up Front CD. Memorable among these was ‘My Funny Valentine’ with a spine chilling solo on muted trumpet from Don Harris who, by this stage of the week, was growing in stature and confidence. Don, together with his brother Bill are the Harris Brothers who worked as the house horn section for the nine principal shows that formed the center piece of the cruise. They got better and better as the week went on.
The audience warmed to Brown a little more slowly than had been the case with some of his fellow performers but warm to him they did as they began to enjoy his between tune banter and his dry sense of humor.
Warren Hill, on the day on which he renewed his wedding vows of ten years to his wife Tamara, came out to duet with Brown then Euge Groove entered to his usual tumultuous audience acclaim to do the same. Euge also took time out to pay tribute to Brown and the contribution he has made to his success, landing him his first record deal and producing what will soon be all four of his CD’s to date.
Paul continued with two, as yet not fully named, selections from his up coming second CD. One track, provisionally titled ‘Las Vegas’, brim full with many Paul Brown production hallmarks, promised much. Another, with no title, but described by Brown himself as a ‘kind of Jefferson Airplane / San Francisco kind of a groove’, might just turn out to be one of the big hits of smooth jazz in 2005. Perhaps under the circumstances he could do worse than to name the song ‘Deep Sea Rescue’.
Overall he was excellent and the glimpses he gave of what is in the pipeline made a conclusive statement that Paul Brown will be no smooth jazz one CD wonder.
As a footnote it should be said that Rick Braun did finally recover and was able to play his set to the late audience as part of the Friday show.
Read more about the Warren Hill Smooth Jazz Cruise 2005 right here in the coming days and weeks.
Do you have any comments on what you have found in this months Secret Garden? Do you have a favorite ‘Smooth Soul Survivor’ that you would enjoy being featured in a future edition? If so please contact the Smooth Jazz Vibes Guest Book or e-mail me on DenisPoole2000@Yahoo.comPosted by Denis Poole at January 24, 2005 3:44 PM