March 5, 2005

The Colors Of Brown, White and Braun

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. In this final look back at the Warren Hill Smooth Jazz Cruise 2005 (WHSJC) the Secret Garden gathers together snippets and impressions of what was a truly memorable experience for all concerned.

RickBraun_live.jpgIronically, the person billed to head up The All Star Cruise out of Galveston Texas in November 2005, Rick Braun, was the one who perhaps suffered most from the sea sickness that afflicted both artists and fans during the Warren Hill event. Prevented from performing earlier in the week he came back triumphantly on the final evening with an exquisite set laced with standouts. Not least among these were ‘Kisses In The Rain’, the title track from his 2001 CD, where he was joined on stage by Peter White, and ‘Notorious’ from his 1997 Body and Soul, played as a duet with Kirk Whalum. The collaborations kept on coming with ‘Use Me’, also from Kisses In The Rain, for which he was joined by Euge Groove, and his big hit ‘Green Tomatoes’, from his CD Esperanto that he played, as on the original recording, with Kirk Whalum and Norman Brown. The performance simply re-enforced Braun’s standing as the preeminent smooth jazz trumpeter of today.

PeterWhite_live.jpgMajor artists playing together with a house backing band and all with limited opportunity for preparation practice or rehearsal may be a fact of smooth jazz cruising life but it also has the potential to cause some problems. It certainly seemed that way for Peter White who started off his Sunday evening late show appearance with his usual energy and a selection from his current CD Confidential. Although held down tightly by Michael Manson on bass, the excellent Michael Logan on keyboards and Sean McCurley on drums, Whites complex arrangements were clearly too much for the house horn section, The Harris Brothers. They messed up the introduction to ‘Talkin Bout Love’, causing White to restart the number and, overall, threatened to give the set an under par feel. Fortunately when there is a ship stacked brim full with musical talent this does not have to be a big deal as up stepped Euge Groove to play two fantastic duets with White and, in the process, lift the entire show. Warren Hill also played along with White to good effect but, not for the only time during the WHSJC, the real stars were the fans. When Peter did ‘That Lady’ from his 2001 CD Glow and threatened a diversion that at first sounded like it was going to be ‘The Theme From Shaft’ but ended up as ‘Papa Was A Rolling Stone’ the audience picked up on it immediately and sang along with no prompting whatsoever.

NormanBrown_live.jpgWhen, later in the same show, Norman Brown followed White, his melodic soulful and controlled guitar was faultless. With Manson, Logan and McCurley again holding it down, and no need in his arrangements for a horn section, Brown glided through his set showcasing the best from his considerable discography. For the second time in the same evening smooth jazz gave a nod to the Isley Brothers as Brown covered ‘For The Love Of You’ and well and truly kept the old school connection firmly in place.

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.com.

Posted by Denis Poole at March 5, 2005 6:50 PM