by KEVIN POWELL
The piano tossed out of the window and a loud boom. Made you look, as the rapper Nas once chanted with heart-slapping bravado. That is what an old school photographer said to me once whenever he knew a great new musical artist had burst upon the scene. Well that is precisely how I felt when I stumbled upon Grammy Award-winning trumpet player Maurice “Mobetta” Brown very recently in New York City. For he is that piano crashing down and I had to look and ask Yo, who is that, exactly?
Think Louis Armstrong and his trumpet uploaded for the 21st century to a hiphop beat, and you begin to understand who this young genius is. Maurice is a classically trained jazzman mentored and supported by the iconic Wynton Marsalis and the legendary Ramsey Lewis. But “Mobetta” is also a hiphop head for life, and that journey on this planet rock literally parallels the history and evolution of rap. Little wonder that Maurice not only blows the roof off God’s sky with his horn, but he also spits lyrics the way Satchmo spit his own brand of vocalese back in the day. Yup, Mobetta is a horn-playing-rhyme-spraying- dancing machine that jazz-hiphop collaborators like Donald Byrd and Gang Starr’s Guru or Ron Carter and A Tribe Called Quest fantasized about in the early 1990s. No need to cram to make that jazz-hiphop experiment happen in these times because Maurice Brown is the living and breathing embodiment of it all, a one-stop shop destined to be this era’s Quincy Jones. And then some.
Which brings me to his new cd, “C.O.L.: Maurice vs Mobetta,” or, rather, Maurice’s jazz side versus his hiphop persona. Technically a remix of his second opus “The Cycle of Love”—complete with Maurice’s original horn work intact—this third album instead becomes its own thing: a fresh re-imagining of Maurice’s collaborative vision for music. That equals tracks featuring some of the finest veteran and up-and-coming producers around today plus cameos by underground hiphop mic controllers Talib Kweli, Jean Grae, Consequence, and Mobb Deep’s Prodigy. And it includes the soulful chops of singers like Saunders Sermons and Chris Rob. Which means this Chicago-area native who got his feet dusty in the jazz holes of New Orleans ain’t half steppin’ on “C.O.L.”
Check the stutter-step percussion licks and ring-the-alarm horn playing of Maurice Brown framing Talib Kweli’s hiphop emancipation proclamation “No such thing as too intelligent” on “Fly By Night.” Check the pounding second-line march of “Misunderstood Part II,” a jam so funky you could either sweat to it on a dance floor or the heated pavement of NOLA’s 9th Ward. And check “Daydreams,” a cut that kickstarts with a house-y Chicago opening romp then electric slides into an
elastic musical spliff that Prodigy and Mobetta smoke like the best rap tag teams of hiphop’s Golden Era.
This is a mere sampling of the 9 tracks on “C.O.L.” Maurice “Mobetta” Brown has more in store, not only on this new effort, but coming down the pike. Fresh off of winning his very first Grammy with Tedeschi Trucks Band for Best Blues Album of the year in 2012 (Maurice was the horn arranger for the 11-piece ensemble), know that “C.O.L.” is a gumbo sound lab for this dynamic young trumpet player-arranger-producer.
And Maurice “Mobetta” Brown is just getting warmed up…
Kevin Powell is a writer, public speaker, college lecturer, and music historian. He is the author or editor of 11 books, and has written extensively on American popular culture for publications such as Esquire, Newsweek, Ebony, Rolling
Stone, and Vibe, where he worked for several years as a senior writer.
Maurice Brown - Trumpet
Chris Rob - Piano / Vocals
Solomon Dorsey - Bass
Derek Douget - Tenor Sax
Joe Blaxx - Drums
Maurice Brown "C.O.L. - Maurice vs Mobetta" (Brown, 2013)
Maurice Brown "The Cycle of Love" (Brown, 2010)
Soul'd U Out Official Mixtape "Soul'd Out" (Brown, 2009)
Maurice Brown "Hip to Bop" (Brown, 2004)
Maurice is featured on:
Tedeschi Trucks Band "TBA" (Sony BMG Music)
Tedeschi Trucks Band "Everybody's Talking" (Sony BMG Music)
Prodigy of Mobb Deep "H.N.I.C. 3" (Sony)
Marcus Miller "Renaissance" (Koch Records)
Tedeschi Trucks Band "Revelator" (Sony BMG Music)
Maya Azucena "Cry Love" (Half Note Records)
Locksmith "Embedded" (Bluroc Records)
Ski Beatz "24 Hour Karate School, Pt. 2" (Bluroc Records)
The Pimps of Joytime "Janxta Funk!" Wonderwheel Recordings
Santigold "Master of My Make Believe" (Downtown Records)
Talib Kweli "Gutter Rainbows" (Duckdown Records)
Cee-Lo Green "The Lady Killer" (Atlantic Records)
Musiq Soulchild "Musiq In The Magiq" (Atlantic Records)
Diddy "Angels Remix" (Interscope Records)
Laura Izibor "From My Heart to Yours Remix" (Atlantic Records)
Dela Soul "Are you in?" (Nike)
Aretha Franklin "Crown of Jewels" (Arista Records)
Talib Kweli "Ear Drum" (Warner Bros. Records)
DJ Center "Everything In Time" (Push the Fader)
Chelsea Baratz "In Faith" (601 Records)
Roy Hargrove "RH Factor" (Verve)
Lettuce "Rage" (Velour Recordings)
Vieux Farka Touré "Remixed: UFO Over Bamako" (Modiba)
Kendra Ross "New Voice" (P-Vine Records)
Gordon Chambers "Love Stories" (Dome Records)
World Leader Pretend "Punches" (Warner Bros.)
Rick Parker Collective "Finding Space" (WJF Records
Ernest Dawkins "Live at The Orginal Velvet Lounge " (Delmark)
Gordon Chambers "Love Stories" (Dome Records)
Eric Frazier "In Your Own Time" (EFP)
Young Bleed "Carleone's Vintage" (Da'Tention Home)
Ernest Dawkin's New Horizon "Mean Ameen" (Delmark)
Fred Anderson "Back at the Velvet Lounge"(Delmark)
George Freeman "At Long Last George" (Savant)
Michelle Carr "Change" (Salt Box)
The Connection Feat: Mobetta & Sam Barsh Produced by Sam Barsh
Misunderstood Part II Feat: Consequence, Mobetta, Stimulus Produced by DJ Center
Daydreams Feat: Prodigy & Mobetta Produced by Joe Blaxx
Lovely Feat: Saunders Sermons, M.O.E. & Mobetta
Back at the Ranch Feat: Jean Grae & Mobetta Produced by DJ Scratch
A Modern Jazz Music Video (And It's Not Lame, Either)
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Featuring a mid-winter mime in DUMBO, steampunk mad science and Maurice Brown's mini-me surrogate. (...Featuring a mid-winter mime in DUMBO, steampunk mad science and Maurice Brown's mini-me surrogate. (The song is pretty hip too.)
The tune is "Time Tick Tock," by the Maurice Brown Effect, off The Cycle Of Love. Brown plays trumpet; Derek Douget takes the tenor solo; Chris Rob, Solomon Dorsey, Joe Blaxx are the rhythm section: piano, bass, drums. Unlike this guy, I slept on this record when it came out earlier this year — my loss. It's one of those modern-R&B-influenced jazz discs which doesn't make you wish it just stuck to one genre or the other. They're great live, too.
This is posted also to seek answers for the question: Has anyone else in recent memory made a music video for a jazz song? (OK, Esperanza, but who else?) Not just an HD video capture of a live performance: A music video, like the ones which used to run on MTV and now see life primarily embedded on music blogs like this one. One of you out there must know something I do not.
by PATRICK JARENWATTANANON
Maurice 'Mo Betta' Brown: Hornification
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From the windy city of Chicago’s and its blues, to the muddy banks of the Mississippi Delta in New O...From the windy city of Chicago’s and its blues, to the muddy banks of the Mississippi Delta in New Orleans and it’s jazz, to the concrete streets of Bedstuy, Brooklyn and it’s Hip-Hop, those in the know will tell you that Maurice “Mobetta” Brown is one of the best horn players on the planet.
“Mobetta”, as they call him, has thoroughly been putting it down for music heads for years and now he’s back with a follow up to his 2004’s crossover release “Hip to Bop.” A top ten release on the jazz charts at its time, the album is widely regarded as a contemporary jazz classic and an unbelievably sophisticated debut album for such a young musician. Now Maurice Brown is giving listeners “The Cycle of Love.”
The concept album takes listeners on a jazzy yet be-bop and Hip-Hop infused journey through the emotions and stages of love. While the average Hip-Hop listener has likely heard the sounds of “Mobetta” unknowingly, in the jazz and soul world, Maurice Brown is considered a pioneer with respect to the melodic sounds he has been able to create and currently he is what many regard as the “first call” horn player in New York for Hip-Hop and R&B songs.
Jazz, soul, or Hip-Hop, Maurice “Mobetta” Brown has been nailing studio sessions in all three genres, collaborating with likes of artists such as Aretha Franklin, The Roots, Wyclef Jean, John Legend, De La Soul, Cee-Lo and Musiq Soulchild to name a few, guiding the listeners with what he calls “hornificaiton”. Leaving New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, the Bedstuy, Brooklyn resident is a member of the Brooklyn Jazz Hall of Fame and he continues to gain accolades across the industry for his arranging and songwriting capabilities. AllHipHop.com sat down to talk with Maurice about his success in the industry and his upcoming releases on his own label, Brown Records.
Take a look at this Q and A with one of the industry’s most talented trumpet players.
AllHipHop.com: What good man? Where you at right now?
Mobetta: I’m in Bedstuy, Brooklyn. I’m over here in the heart of it all you could say.
AllHipHop.com: I appreciate you taking the time to link up with me. So getting into things here, you have your own label, right?
Mobetta: Yea, right now I am really focused on this project right now. It is definitely my plan to take on more artists later but I got to put this project out and I have another project after this one that I am putting out called “Mobetta & Soul'd U Out.” It is definitely my plan to come out with more music later, but I am focused on the “Cycle of Love” album right now. It’s a lot of work that goes into having your own label, but you definitely reap the benefits later.
AllHipHop.com: Right, so you’re originally from Chicago, you moved to New Orleans, essentially a “Jazz Mecca”, now you’re in Brooklyn, New York. What has the journey been like man? Can you describe the music in each city and how that’s shaped your style?
Mobetta: Yea man, it’s been an incredible journey. You know Chicago is the home of the blues, so there’s a lot of blues going on in Chicago, that’s a big part of my foundation. Then when I moved to New Orleans and that’s when I got to really soak up the culture and start getting a lot of the soulfulness, like the melodies, and getting the party going. That’s what New Orleans is all about. Every time I played there it was like I was the hypeman. I played and I got the party going. In New York, its like the best of the best are here so its like I was really able to refine my style here in New York. I was able to take all the element of each city and now here you have Maurice “Mobetta” Brown.
AllHipHop.com: You left New Orleans after Katrina was devastated right?
Mobetta: Yea I had to leave. I left all my stuff behind. I had nothing to come back to. So I said I might as well go to New York. I was planning on making the journey up here anyways but that definitely gave me a good kick to get me going.
AllHipHop.com: Now prior to that, you released the critically acclaimed “Hip to Bop” in 2004. How did that change your career? Looking back how did that album impact your career.
Mobetta: That album was definitely my start in the music business. A lot of people are putting their own albums out in jazz now, but I was doing it in 2004. I was one of the pioneers of putting out your own albums out in the Jazz game. If you looked up there on jazz charts; I was in the top ten next to Virgin and Blue Note.
AllHipHop.com: How did you do that? How did you compete with such heavy hitters like that as a smaller independent label?
Mobetta: The main piece to my success is that I do a lot of collaborations and I also do a lot of production. So I am really well connected in the industry with a lot of people. I am one of the first call horn guy in New York City right now.
"Daydreams" - Maurice Brown LIVE at the Harlem Gatehouse from Adam Barton on Vimeo.
I do all the horns for Wyclef Jean, Atlantic Records, so I’m on like Talib’s “Eardrum”, Aretha Franklin’s stuff, De La Soul’s new album, I did a project Nike put out, just got done with Cee-Lo, Musiq Soulchild, so I am all over the place. I did VH1 Honors, The Roots, Questlove.
AllHipHop.com: The Roots always cover different songs. What do you play when you play with The Roots? Do you jam out or do you have songs that you cover?
Mobetta: Oh man, it’s totally a big jam every time with The Roots. You never know where we are going to go. We always have a plan, but the band is such a vibe band, we go wherever the music takes us when I play with them.
AllHipHop.com: Who would you say that influences you or what Hip-Hop groups do you like that are out now.
Mobetta: I definitely like older Hip-Hop with more content and quality, but I definitely like what’s out now. I’m in to whatever catches my ear at the moment. Sometimes I will go with the more commercial stuff that everyone likes. I love Jay, Kanye and Talib, but I also look at production. I really like a lot of what DangerMouse is doing and a lot of his collaborations and what he does with Gnarles Barkley. Broken Bell the new group he has going on. There is just so much.
AllHipHop.com: What’s in your iPod?
Mobetta: [Laughs] I have so much music man, being a producer, I have music dating back man. If you saw my iPod you would trip out! I have a lot of soul, a lot of funk, and a lot of Hip-Hop.
AllHipHop.com: Yea so I saw you got the chance to work with Aretha.
Mobetta: Yea man I went in and arranged all the horns for her song in collaboration with John Legend. Produced by Gable Springsteen, he’s the Grammy nominated producer who did the song “Diamonds are Forever” for Kanye West. I basically went in there wrote some horn lines and arranged the horns section for the song and went in there and nailed it. They were really happy with it. The key thing for me is that my melodies are really catchy. So that’s one of the things in the industry that people really like. Sometimes the horn line in a song is the only thing that you remember.
AllHipHop.com: So speaking of horns, you coined the term “hornification”, can you tell me about that term?
Mobetta: Yea “hornification” is basically what I do man. I come in to a session. They ask for horns and most of the time its just me by myself, they don’t have a whole horn section. So I come in and end up doing a lot of overdubs. I do the high horns, the middle horns, the lower horns, I bust out the flugelhorn which is a deeper sounding trumpet kind of like a cross between the trombone and trumpet, so I lay that down. Then it just allows the producer to master thick sounds like Earth, Wind and Fire horns, kind of, but with definitely a more Hip-Hop swag on it.
AllHipHop.com: You mentioned that you worked with Wyclef Jean. He is known to be in the studio for long hours and to be a great producer. Can you tell me about that?
Mobetta: Working with Wyclef and Jerry Wonder, that’s his main man, the bassist and producer. It has been incredible, I have picked up so many production tips from them. They are very musical people. They put music first before anything else. The one interesting thing about Wyclef and his production that I find different from a lot of people is that he likes to record more from an old school approach as far as a live band. They start off as a live band and jam and then find the best moments and then they put it all together that way. Then they track it out so that’s why all of their music has such an organic feel to it.
AllHipHop.com: Right, that’s cool man. So you have been elected into the Brooklyn Jazz Hall of Fame and you have only lived in New York since Katrina, about 5 years. That’s unbelievable considering you haven’t even been in the city that long.
Mobetta: What is cool is when I was in New Orleans I got the Big Easy Contemporary Jazz Award, so that means I was representing contemporary jazz in New Orleans. I had the biggest club out there selling out, two shows every Tuesday. For 2 or 3 years I was doing that, I was selling out and that was really cool. I also got the New Orleans All Star Award.
So basically I settled down for a little bit. I am not so much searching for some place to get known, I am actually bringing something. When I got here people knew who I was, people were like, “Oh Maurice Brown is here in New York now?” From there on, I really got deep into the scene,
I hooked up with Craig Kallman, the Chairmam and CEO of Atlantic Records, and he asked me to be the musical director for Laura Izibor for a whole year. She is a new artist on Atlantic, that was cool, my band backed her up until the end of 2009 and I had to stop because I have my international tour that I have set up where we are going all over the place. I’m going to Jakarta for the Java Jazz Festival; John Legend will be there, Tony Braxton. I am going to New Delhi, India, France, Croatia and Spain twice this year. The journey continues man.
Mobetta: Yea with my label I have international distribution so my record is going to be everywhere with that. I already started pre-orders on my website, and my fans have been going on there and buying the album in advance. I have had so many pre-orders that it has basically been paying for all of my distribution costs for my album to get everywhere. So the fans basically have been paying for me to take “Cycle of Love” and spread it everywhere.
AllHipHop.com: Got to be exciting going forward.
Mobetta: Yea it’s an incredible feeling. Just being able to represent music and jazz in general. A lot of times people take jazz and may feel its too heavy, but the music that I write is very accessible and based on a pop form. So when you hear the melodies they are so catchy that it sounds like you heard them before. It’s like its own thing. It’s bigger than me, the music itself so it is a very humbling experience. I definitely am living my dream and I definitely feel blessed. I don’t take it for granted to be able to touch people’s souls. It’s definitely a responsibility.
AllHipHop.com: That is something that people in Hip-Hop definitely don’t always take into consideration. The ability to touch people’s soul is serious.
Mobetta: It’s a huge responsibility, and you know your ego can get in the way sometimes, but you know you have to check yourself and let yourself know that this is all bigger than me. I am just a vessel here to deliver this message at this moment. I am the chosen one at this moment. I am definitely on the road and its incredible bro. I am also doing a music video, which is very different for jazz. I am doing the video for the single “Time Tick Tock”, that has been an awesome experience. I also have a documentary that is coming out soon with Adam Bartran. So I think that will reach people too.
AllHipHop.com: How did you pick “Time Tick Tock” as your first single for your new album “Cycle of Love”? Mobetta: For me the reason that I picked it was because there were a lot of songs that I thought could have been a single but I didn’t want to give off a certain vibe. But “Time Tick Tock” was the most “stop you in your tracks” type song that I though would make listeners stop and want to check out the album completely. The whole thing behind “Time Tick Tock” and the album “The Cycle of Love“ that its my interpretation of the different stages that we go through on our journey and quest for true happiness as individuals. So each song is a different stage in the cycle of love. So it’s a concept album, and that’s one of the reasons that it took me so long to put another album out since the last one. Since the hurricane, Hurricane Katrina put me back a little bit, but I didn’t just want to put out an album with just two or three songs. I just wanted to make an album where you would be able to just put it on and let it play through. So I really feel like everyone is really going to feel this album.
AllHipHop.com: Do you have any collaboration that you are excited about coming up?
Time Tick Tock Teaser from Adam Barton on Vimeo.
Mobetta: I did the remix for Puffy’s “Angels” with Jerry Wonder, but I got a lot of stuff coming up man. The next album is going to be the “Mobetta & Soul'd U Out.” album where there are singers and I am rapping on it. I think you are def going to feel that. On my current album, Chris Rob in on the keys, he used to rock with John Legend and went out with Stevie Wonder for a second. Each of the guys on my album are not so much jazz names but they are more popular in the R&B and Hip-Hop world.
AllHipHop.com: Gives music and Hip-Hop fans a lot to look forward to. A nice little network of musicians in New York collaborating can only be a good thing. Makes for some excellent music.
Mobetta: The mailing list I have is sick and my crew does too. So most likely if there is a show up here and we all blast it all over the place like, “This is where it is, this is where it’s going down, ” 9 times out of 10 it’s going to be sold out. This album is not your normal jazz album at all. Its definitely a cross over album to connect the dots to get people prepared for the “Mobetta & Soul'd U Out.” album that I am going to do. I didn’t want to go straight to the “Soul'd U Out.” album because I felt it was important for people to understand where I am coming from. So if they look at “Hip to Bop”, to “To The Cycle of Love”, “Soul'd U Out.” is next in the progression.
MAURICE BROWN The Cycle of Love (Brown) CD REVIEW
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Six years after the release of his promising debut CD, Hip to Bop, 29-year-old trumpeter Maurice Bro...Six years after the release of his promising debut CD, Hip to Bop, 29-year-old trumpeter Maurice Brown returns with a solid sophomore outing. A crossover disc in the best sense of the word, The Cycle of Love contains 10 simply stated, deeply soulful original tunes that touch back to ‘70s R&B while taking the pulse of today’s streets. The catchy pop-songs hooks and hip-hop-inflected beats seem to call out for lyrics, either written or freestyle, but left as instrumentals their subtleties are allowed to shine.
Brown’s quintet has a glorious ensemble sound. Drummer Joe Blaxx is always on the move: His complex, off-center rhythms have layers of cymbals and staccato beat dropping reminiscent of drum machines, while Solomon Dorsey’s casually bent bass tones soften the groove. They merge seamlessly with pianist Chris Rob, whose lush cascades and sparkling jumps provide elegance and dynamism to the rich, compelling atmospheres of the slow-jam title track, the hard-edged “Misunderstood” and the mechanized bounce of “Time Tick Tock”
Up front, Brown makes every note count. He’s not given to pyrotechnics, but his meaty tone packs a wallop once he gets heated up, jabbing repeatedly at a single note or phrase, then hopscotching forward. Saxophonist Derek Douget offers a pleasing contrast to Brown’s muscularity. His breathy, weaving lines trend to recede in the uptempo numbers, but sound oh-so-cool at slower tempos.
A disk that grows mmore dear with repeat listens, The Cycle of Love is one of the better releases in the current”back to soul” movement. Fans of recent releases by Nicholas Payton, Roy Hargrove, or Corey Wilkes will find an easy and rewarding connection to this highly appealing music.
FORREST DYLAN BRYANT
Maurice Brown's latest "The Cycle of Love" CD REVIEW
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Former Chicago trumpeter Maurice Brown makes a significant artistic leap forward in his sophomore CD...Former Chicago trumpeter Maurice Brown makes a significant artistic leap forward in his sophomore CD, "The Cycle of Love" (Brown Records). Though Brown's liner notes offer a detailed description of the narrative arc behind the music, these 10 tunes ultimately require no back story. Many of the cuts, such as "Fly By Night" and "Merry Go Round," show Brown's gifts for crafting indelible melodic hooks. But others, such as "Misunderstood" and the title cut, bristle with extended passages of rigorous, sinewy improvisation. Even so, a pervasive lyricism drives most of Brown's work on trumpet, with comparably fervent playing from tenor saxophonist Derek Douget. Essentially, Brown and his quintet have found the place where jazz, soul and pop converge, shortchanging none of these languages but drawing eloquently from each of them.
Maurice Brown: His New CD "The Cycle Of Love" and How Jazz Is Stuck
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I've watched Maurice Brown grow up. Not in the traditional sense, but from the day I first saw him p...I've watched Maurice Brown grow up. Not in the traditional sense, but from the day I first saw him perform as a sideman in a New Orleans, all-star woodshed during Jazz Fest of 2004, to that very same evening where he held court as leader at the now defunct Funky Butt on Rampart Street, through the years of displacement after Katrina, Maurice Brown has taken immense strides as a musician, producer, and human being. And in the 6 years between his stellar debut, "Hip To Bop" and his long-awaited follow-up, "The Cycle Of Love," we've become friends. He's trusted me with his music, even in its precious, unfinished state, as well as personal stories of what it was like to be on the verge of something big, only to have it all taken away.
Growing up in Chicago, living in New Orleans, and now residing in Brooklyn USA, Maurice Brown has taken the best of those three cities and created music that is altogether original. With respect to the traditions of New Orleans jazz, the free-form sounds of Chicago, and dirty grit and groove of NYC, Brown's new record "The Cycle Of Love" is a powerhouse, a record that should change the way people listen to jazz, while converting those that don't.
Maurice Brown is a major talent, and I am not afraid to call him a musical genius. Maurice Brown is back. Here is part of our last conversation.
SN: "The Cycle Of Love" has been a long time coming, almost 6 years since your last record. What's been going on?
MB: Since the release of "Hip To Bop," I've been touring nationally, playing jazz festivals and performance centers. But the last two years have been consumed with touring and being musical director for Laura Izibor. It's been quite an experience and took up a lot of time, actually. I mean, I wasn't able to focus on my career and what I needed to do, so I had to wrap that up at the end of 2009 and get ready for all this work I had to do to get this album out. I've also been doing horn arrangements for Atlantic Records, working with Wyclef Jean. I'm on Talib Kweli's new album, Aretha Franklin's album.
SN: So you obviously kept busy. Now I know soon after your debut, "Hip To Bop" was released, you continued to compose new music, then like so many others in New Orleans, you had your plans pre-empted, losing your home, trumpets, and the music you had recorded. Did any of that music survive, either on tape or in your head, and if so, did any of it end up on "The Cycle Of Love?"
MB: Some of the tunes came from New Orleans. And yeah, I did lose a lot of music In New Orleans. But the majority of what you hear on "The Cycle Of Love" I wrote in New York.
SN: I've seen you perform in many different settings, small groups with you as both a leader and a sideman, big bands, your hip-hop soul collective Soul'd U Out, and whatever the setting, it seems as if the band feeds off of you and your energy. I notice this on the new record, as well. You definitely give each band member room to breathe.
MB: I definitely try to compose music to feature the members of my band and highlight their strong points. For example, a lot of guys on the album are not big jazz names, per se. Like Chris Rob my piano player was on the road with John Legend, and I thought that was a good element, a contemporary soul player, to add to the album. When I wrote "The Cycle Of Love," I wanted to write real songs. Not to say straight jazz isn't real songs...when I say real songs, I mean the form. I wanted to write in a pop form, catchy melodies. I wanted to make a jazz album that people heard, felt good, and walked away thinking, "Man, I heard this before," that kind of feeling, where you walk away singing the album.
SN: That's interesting. Jazz purists wouldn't be caught dead listening to pop music, and those that listen to "smooth jazz," a term I can't even say without cringing, wouldn't be caught dead listening to Ornette Coleman or even later Miles, for that matter. Yet on the new record, the songs are accessible enough so that anyone who listens to pop or soul and r&b, and even some hard bop and swing, can identify with what's happening, but the musicianship is so strong, it should catch the ear of those purists. It's the perfect crossover.
MB: I have to credit that with the experience I have being a producer and working with hip-hop and R&B artists. When you go on tour with someone like the Brand New Heavies or Questlove & The Roots, you are exposed to a whole different audience than what you're usually exposed to playing jazz. You learn how to rock that audience.
SN: You've played with many jazz legends, Curtis Fuller, Ramsey Lewis, Louis Hayes, Fred Anderson, and a lot of that experience can be heard on your debut, "Hip To Bop." But each subsequent time I've seen you perform, those straight jazz roots seem to get socked away in bits and pieces, while you subtlely incorporate the pop form you mentioned earlier.
MB: I don't think I'm putting my jazz roots away. I think they are very prominent on this album and with everything that I do. I mean, I am a jazz musician. There's no way around that, you know? But the thing I've noticed is that jazz...well..it's kind of stuck. It hasn't been able to progress like other genres have. I think part of that is that back in the day, when jazz was a more popular music, those jazz musicians were like modern day griots. They were telling the stories of the world and the community around them. They were basically giving you current events with their music. And now in 2010, so many jazz musicians are repeating history and not telling current events. Ya dig? The hip-hop and r&b scene seem to be more in tune with the community, and reaching people, and keeping them informed on what's now, what's happening right now! And I don't want to get what's happening now confused with what's hot, because that's not what I'm talking about. I'm not talking about what's hot. I'm talking about what's current.
SN: That's smart. I get that completely. You have this incredible ability as a composer at such a young age, to write songs that instantly sound like standards. When I first heard "It's A New Day" from the first record, I though it was one of those AM radio, crossover hits by Donald Byrd or Ramsey Lewis. The melody was absolutely heaven, so comfortable it was as if I'd been listening to it since the 60s. On the new record, the song that stands out for me is the ballad, "Lovely." It is heartbreakingly beautiful and it has this magic of sounding completely fresh, yet feeling like an old friend. Every song on "The Cycle Of Love" is hook-filled, without ever compromising. At 29 years old, the depth of your music belies your age.
MB: Wow. Thanks! That's a great compliment.
SN: Don't mention it. Ha!
This will be Maurice Brown's year. I implore you all to jump on "The Cycle Of Love." It's music for the masses. Get it HERE.
MUSIC FOR ONE’S EARS
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Trumpeter Maurice Brown, the Chicago native who New Orleans was blessed to have on the scene from 20...Trumpeter Maurice Brown, the Chicago native who New Orleans was blessed to have on the scene from 2001 until the flooding of the city forced him to move to New York, follows up his brilliant debut release, Hip To Bop, with another exemplary CD, The Cycle of Love. Brown has what so many jazz musicians search for as they explore the music: A signature sound and style. From the first bars of the opening tune, “Fly By Night,” one can tell that it is Brown behind the trumpet and compositional pen. By the tune’s end his horn is fired up with determination.
In his writings he’s also found a way to make a tune dance-ready while not detracting from its jazz elements. It works here on “Good Vibrations” just as it did on Hip To Bop’s “It’s a New Day.” Strong melodies are also a Brown specialty. In only a few listens, it’s easy to find yourself humming along with the tune “Reflections” and forgetting that it is a new composition rather than a jazz standard.
New Orleans saxophonist Derek Douget returns to team with Brown on the front line of the band that includes a stellar line-up of the trumpeter’s peers – pianist Chris Rob, drummer Joe Blaxx and bassist Solomon Dorsey. The trumpeter and saxophonist’s years together are apparent as they exchange perfectly executed runs that rhythmically and tonally suggest the passing of time on the clock-themed “Tick-Tock.”
Pianist Rob excels throughout the disc with a style that is at once delicate and intense. Perhaps being a fellow Chicago native makes him seem especially compatible with Brown who also performs with an awareness of balance and contrast. Blaxx and Dorsey get some shine time on the album’s hard-bopping burner, “Daydreams.”
Brown has always had a way with ballads and writes and plays a beautiful one simply named “Lovely.” Using a muted horn, the trumpeter takes his time on the romantic song as he fills it with deep emotion. He knows that empty spaces are often as important as the notes.
Maurice Brown triumphantly delivers the joy of jazz on The Cycle of Love, an album that is as
timeless as its subject.
SKOPE TV PHONER WITH MAURICE BROWN
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Last week on March 10th, 2010 Skope got to link up with Maurice Brown as he called in from Brooklyn,...Last week on March 10th, 2010 Skope got to link up with Maurice Brown as he called in from Brooklyn, NY. Maurice is not an emcee or R&B singer but rather an amazing trumpeter. Maurice has been busy prepping the release of his new album, ‘The Cycle Of Love.’ Maurice was feeling jet lag but he was gracious enough to talk with Skope TV about the album, learning the trumpet, moving to Brooklyn, and so much more!
The Remarkable Maurice Brown
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What a remarkable composer Maurice Brown is becoming. His debut CD of 2004, “Hip to Bop,” hinted...What a remarkable composer Maurice Brown is becoming.
His debut CD of 2004, “Hip to Bop,” hinted at his potential, thanks to tracks such as the buoyant “It’s a New Day” and the technically daunting “Rapture.”
But Thursday night at the Jazz Showcase, where the former Chicagoan is making his debut as headliner, Brown played music never heard here before. The scores will be on the trumpeter’s still-to-be-recorded CD, “The Cycle of Love,” and they show a significant maturation of his art.
Judging by the music Brown’s band—the Maurice Brown Effect—played during its first set, the trumpeter has refined his compositional methods. Before, he seemed to pack as much musical content and technical bravura as possible into every bar; now he’s allowing his phrases to breathe.
Brown—who grew up in Harvey—always has shown a knack for penning insinuating melodic hooks. Not surprisingly, then, the tunes from “The Cycle of Love” linger in memory.
Yet these are not simple pop ditties. Each of Brown’s themes from “The Cycle of Love” bristles with unexpected turns of phrase, pungent harmonic choices and other idiosyncrasies of rhythm and melodic line. The years Brown, 28, spent studying with the Louisiana musician Alvin Batiste clearly laid the groundwork for Brown’s development as composer-arranger.
In midtempo pieces, Brown unfurled puckish motifs driven by constant syncopation and other forms of rhythmic tension. In ballads, he reaffirmed his gifts as melodist without stooping to sentimentality.
Much of Brown’s work this night was articulated not so much as solo fare but as duets with saxophonist Derek Douget, backed by a propulsive rhythm section. The two horns gave these scores more heft and eloquence than either could have produced alone.
Still, one yearned to hear more solo prowess from Brown than he offered. Even in “Rapture,” a near-classic among Brown’s compositions, the trumpeter leaned heavily on Douget.
Perhaps it’s not just Brown’s composing style
Maurice Brown/The Cycle of Love
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If you're waiting for a jazz record to capture your imagination with accessible melodies, style, out...If you're waiting for a jazz record to capture your imagination with accessible melodies, style, outstanding vocabulary and uncompromising musicianship, you'll want to check out "The Cycle of Love" from trumpeter/composer Maurice Brown.
"Cycle" is a melodious tribute to love in all its phases from infatuation to attachment, misunderstanding and fulfulliment. And it's all expressed in an imaginative style filtered through the artist's influences ranging from bebop to hip-hop.
The New York artist has already been heard on a large number of projects ranging from albums by Aretha Franklin and urban legend Talib Kweli. His debut album Hip to Bop cracked top ten charts across the country.
Brown is backed by a no-compromises cast of sidemen including Derek Gouget on tenor, Chris Rob on piano, Joe Blaxx on drums and Solomon Dorsey on bass.
Maurice is an unpretentious, cultured person from a strong musical background. Raised in south Chicago, Maurice was awarded a full music scholarship to Northern Illinois University upon graduating from Hillcrest High School. After winning first place in the esteemed National Miles Davis Trumpet Competition, Maurice found new flavor in the heart of Louisiana, where he continued his studies at Southern University. He also thrilled audiences, headlining at New Orleans’ premiere jazz club, Snug Harbor.
Brown currently lives in New York.
As a complete work of composition, musicianship and artistic imagination, "Cycle of Love" is off the hook.
Brown's Promise Becomes A Reality
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Four years ago, a promising young trumpeter from Harvey, Ill., moved to New Orleans to sharpen his s...Four years ago, a promising young trumpeter from Harvey, Ill., moved to New Orleans to sharpen his skills outside the pressures of Chicago's rigorously competitive jazz scene.
Over the weekend, 24-year-old Maurice Brown came home, and, within a few choruses of "I Hear a Rhapsody," made it clear he isn't a jazz prodigy anymore. Though still clearly in the nascent stages of what could be a major career, Brown has emerged as one of the most dynamic trumpet soloists of the under-30
generation -- in New Orleans, Chicago, New York or anywhere else.
Leading his quintet at the Green Mill Jazz Club, Brown brought an array of
talents that rarely intersect in the same young musician. Blessed with as much instrumental technique as improvisational imagination, as much jazz erudition as appetite for innovation, he does not fit neatly into anyone's profile of how a rising jazz soloist sounds.
He offers the enthusiasm of youth alongside the achievements of more seasoned musicians. Add to this an outsized personality that radiates optimism, and it's no wonder Brown had a standing-room-only audience cheering before he ended his
And though one hastens to add that Brown -- like anyone his age -- still has a long way to go in realizing his considerable potential, he's off to the fastest start since New Orleans trumpeter Nicholas Payton ascended in the 1990s.
Listeners who attended Brown's first set Friday night at the Green Mill heard a musician who not only couldn't wait to stand before the microphone but also had a great deal to say once he arrived there. Though youthful virtuosos tend to play hard and fast -- trying early on to establish their credentials -- Brown
was in no hurry in "I Hear a Rhapsody." Indeed, the medium tempo that Brown chose, as well as his emphasis on gently swinging eighth notes and even slower
time values, suggested that he has absorbed a great deal in New Orleans, where Louis Armstrong and Joe "King" Oliver first started to forge the vocabulary of the jazz trumpet and cornet.
Brown has learned a lot about the depth of sound that every note in a great trumpet solo can convey, and he has mastered uniquely lilting Southern tempos and rhythms. But Brown adds to this deeply lyric impulse the urge to experiment
and reinvent, characteristics ingrained in the music of the city whose music first shaped him -- Chicago. When Brown tore into one of his most challenging and satisfying compositions, "Rapture," there was no mistaking the aggressive
rhythms, earthy swing, technical bravura and go-for-broke experimentation of Chicago jazz, in all its thundering glory.
The big surprise in this set came when Brown picked up his flugelhorn to play the venerable ballad "Misty." The poise and expressive beauty of Brown's phrases -- which nimbly danced around the original melody line without explicitly stating it -- showed how much Brown has matured since he was a teenager sitting in on South Side jam sessions.
Back then, Brown quickly became one of the more talked-about young talents in a city bursting with them. Today -- as his Green Mill engagement and his exceptional debut CD, "Hip to Bop," show -- he's way ahead of the pack.
Hip-hop and jazz in one Christmas package: Q & A with Maurice
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On the verge of 29, the Chicago-bred trumpeter Maurice Brown – performing this evening through Sunda...On the verge of 29, the Chicago-bred trumpeter Maurice Brown – performing this evening through Sunday at the Jazz Showcase – is on top of the world. (You don’t have take my word for it; he’s an inveterate Facebook poster and Twitterer, and he’s happy to fill you in on everything from how rehearsals are going to his mama’s homemade pancakes.)
A budding star by the time he entered college, Brown moved to New Orleans a year or two before Katrina hit – just enough time to establish a wide following in the Crescent City, even as he was incorporating the city’s unique flavors into his potent mix of basic jazz, Chicago blues, and universal funk. He eventually landed in New York, where his flashy tone and instant command of a dozen idioms have made him a studio-session favorite.
Meanwhile, he’s working on a springtime release for The Cycle Of Love, the follow-up to his successful 2004 independent release Hip To Bop. For nearly 20 years, the lure of finding common ground between hip-hop and jazz – which throughout its history has famously absorbed and transformed new beats and whole genres – has beguiled younger musicians. But other than the clever catch-phrase “From bebop to hip-hop” and a handful of exceptions (most notably the mid-90s success of the Digable Planets), the quest has come up empty – until now.
No one is better suited than Brown to pull off this fusion. Instead of trying to bring jazz to hip-hop, he reverses course; as the title of Hip To Bop suggests, he brings his hip-hop experience to bear upon his jazz roots. The song “It’s A New Day” was the first result, and also the reason that his second release is among the more eagerly awaited projects of 2010. (Listen to the song “Time Tick Tock” from that upcoming album here.)
Brown will get to a few tunes from Cycle Of Love this weekend, but mostly he’ll stick to standards and even holiday fare with a quartet that comprises Chicagoans Lorin Cohen (bass) and Isaiah Thomas (drums), and another former Windy Citizen, the protean keyboardist Sam Barsh, who also infuses the spirit of hip-hop into his substantial jazz training. And Brown has also sent an APB to several other top local players to join him in a “pro (Christmas) jam” at the Showcase.
And you were afraid you wouldn’t get what you wanted for the holiday.
Maurice Brown took time to answer a few questions from your Chicago Jazz Examiner.
What’s the difference between your regular band, the Maurice Brown Effect, and the sort of group you’re leading this weekend at the Showcase?
A main difference is that with my touring band, we do mostly originals, while here I’ll be playing more standards. But my style stays the same for both; the environment changes, but my whole approach is to be lyrical and melodic whether it’s swing or playing over a groove. I’m always looking for that melodic statement.
That’s the way Miles Davis worked. You could argue that he was playing the same solos from the 50s through the 80s, although the backgrounds changed dramatically.
Miles is a big inspiration for me during this journey, especially how he was able to adapt, to always be very current and fresh with what was going on. My whole thing is – people are big on hip-hop. And for jazz, it’s not just hip-hop but rhythm-and-blues, and blues itself, they’re so much a part of our culture now. I feel that if Miles or Bird [Charlie Parker] were here today, they’d be doing the same kind of thing that I’m doing.
What distinguishes your efforts to bring jazz and hip-hop together?
A lot of people are attempting to do their thing, and it’s hip; but I’m going for a more cohesive thing where neither side is watered down – which I think has been the case with most attempts. It’s like one side has to suffer. It’s either not this enough or not that enough. So our thing is to really combine them both. And that’s a little different from a lot of cats -- especially the jazz players, who may like hip-hop, but then try to bust out their jazz chops. That’s not what I want to do. I want it to be all integrated.
Remember, I come from that hip-hop generation. I’m also a producer, and I’m in front of this music all the time. Just this week I was in the studio laying down tracks for P.Diddy and for Cee-Lo Green (lately of Gnarls Barkley); I’m playing horns on Musiq Soulchild‘s new album, and I’m also on the new De La Soul album.
Is there anyone else who you think is pulling it all together the way you’re doing?
[laughing] Well, not so much. I can’t really think of anyone right now who’s doing this the same way. Robert Glasper, the jazz pianist, he’s pretty authentic. He’s in a situation like me. He doesn’t just dip into hip-hop; he lives it. He’s touring with Maxwell, and when he gets in front of the keys, he just does his thing. [Glasper also scored a recent GRAMMY® nomination in the Urban Alternative category for his work with neo-soul star Bilal.]
What can you share about your upcoming album?
It’s coming out in March, and it’s gonna be pretty subtle, but definitely a big statement. It will be subtle because it’s acoustic, and not over-produced. We could have been swinging out, but we have our own thing going on; the music has its own life. The thing is that the rhythm of hip-hop is all in our music, and in the form of the songs. People will get a sense of singing along with the album as soon as they hear it.
You’re living pretty large now out in Brooklyn, with a duplex apartment and studio in the Bed-Stuy neighborhood. So what do you miss about Chicago?
Everything! Harold’s Chicken! And Chicago is one of the most beautiful places in the world. This whole last year I was touring almost nonstop – our band was backing up Laura Izibor -- so I’ve been to Paris like six times, Amsterdam four times, Ireland five or six. . . . I love traveling, seeing how other cultures get along, and not doing the tourist thing but trying to adapt to what they’re doing – which is similar to what I try to do musically, too.
And Chicago is very clean too. You can’t believe how clean Chicago is you leave and go other places.
BROWN RISES AS NEW ORLEANS STAR
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When he was living in Chicago, Maurice Brown would take his trumpet to the New Apartment Lounge on t...When he was living in Chicago, Maurice Brown would take his trumpet to the New Apartment Lounge on the South Side almost every Tuesday night to sit in with Von Freeman at the saxophonist’s jam sessions.
Now that Brown, 24, is living in New Orleans, his Tuesdays are spent at Snug Harbor, the top straightahead jazz club in the city. And he’s not sitting in on anyone else’s session. Rather, he leads his quintet, and word has spread throughout the city that this is one of the top jazz shows to catch.
“It’s packed in there every week,” says Brown, who leads a quintet with saxophonist Derek Douget, pianist Doug Bickel or Anthony Wonsey, bassist Jason Stewart, and drummer Adonis Rose or Troy Davis. “And we’re getting a younger generation to come out. There’s a great vibe there.”
Brown is one of the most exciting young trumpeters in jazz--be it New Orleans or New York. His improvisations are fresh, his chops dynamic and he’s writing what could very well become a new generation of hard-bop-meets-new-grooves standards. And given that he’s only played the horn for about 10 years, his potential to grow in the music is staggering.
Brown first picked up the trumpet in high school in south suburban Chicago. Two years later, when he was 16, Brown played at a seminar led by Wynton Marsalis and made Marsalis’ ears perk up. He started playing regularly around Chicago, picking up influences ranging from Freddie Hubbard and Benny Bailey to Lester Bowie and Don Cherry. Shortly after he started studying music at Northern Illinois University, he got a call from Clark Terry--on recommendation from Marsalis--to perform with him aboard the QE2. While around Terry, Brown picked up plenty of musical wisdom.
“He told me to always stay true to the melody. No matter how crazy the music may be, stay true to the melody,” Brown says, and then adds, laughing “he also told me, ‘Be careful not to get too hip. You know what you get when you get too hip.’”
The dreadlocked trumpeter sure isn’t lacking in the hipness quotient. After all, how many jazz artists sell women’s panties with the title of their album (Hip to Bop), on their website? But that’s not to say that the album is all about gimmicks. Brown’s self-produced debut, out on his own Brown Records, is filled with original compositions that give his simpatico bandmates a platform for impressive improvisation. “We worked this band before we went into the studio, “ Brown says. “It’s the opposite of how a lot of bands work today.”
Studying with Alvin Batiste at Southern University in Baton Rouge, La., gave him a lot of the foundation that makes this album swing. It also put him down South, and the growing scene in New orleans lured him. The band on Hip to Bop is the same group with which he plays weekly at Snug Harbor, a gig he got when he filled in for drummer Jason Marsalis’ group one week. That week led to a month, and now he’s become a fixture.
In addition to his quintet, he leads the funk/acid jazz band Soul’d U Out, which has been increasingly active in New Orleans. “That’s my baby,” Brown says, “it’s r&b, hip-hop, jazz and fusion. I’m constantly writing for this, and working on an album. It’s all original music, and I’m writing all the words, all the hooks.”
Talking from New Orleans toward the end of February, as the mercury was in a free-fall in Chicago, does he miss Chicago at all? He starts laughing. Sure he misses playing with the likes of Freeman, Fred Anderson, and Ernest Dawkins, but, “The weather!” he says. “The weather, food, and people here are real nice. Plus, this city supports what you do. You’d be surprised at how many great artists are here in New Orleans.”
--Jason Koransky, editor, Downbeat Magazine
Bringing on the funk with Maurice Brown
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From King Oliver to Louis Armstrong, Fats Navarro to Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis to Freddie Hubbard...From King Oliver to Louis Armstrong, Fats Navarro to Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis to Freddie Hubbard, Roy Hargrove to Nicholas Payton, it seems that all great jazz trumpeters, regardless of generation or stylistic inclination, are drawn to the funk. Each of those aforementioned artists – and there are many more – have steered jazz significantly by incorporating those sweaty, syncopated rhythms, edgy riffs and blues-based melodies we call funk.
You can now add Maurice Brown to that illustrious list of jazz trumpeters. His debut disc, Hip to Bop sublimely integrates the intricate improvisational burn of bebop with the pulsating rhythms of hip hop and R&B.
In concert, Brown’s scintillating trumpet prowess has been turning heads and seducing accolades from such masters as Wynton Marsalis, Curtis Fuller and Clark Terry. BET Jazz talked with Brown about his debut CD and about his woodshed period in Chicago and New Orleans.
BET Jazz: Why are so many jazz trumpeters attracted to the funk?
Maurice Brown: I think that the trumpet is the closest instrument to the human voice. So, it’s easy for us to go for the vocal styles within the music and be real soulful with it. This goes all the way to Louis Armstrong. He used to be real funky when he played.
BET Jazz: Talk about your unique way of combining jazz with hip hop.
Brown: I just took the elements of hip hop and funk and kept those as my roots in my playing. I still stay true to the bebop form in terms of writing but everything has to be subdivided in the funk.
BET Jazz: Who’s currently in your band?
Brown: Pianist Anthony Wonsey, tenor saxophonist Derek Douget, drummer Gregory Hutchinson and bassist Charles Fambrough.
BETJazz: Briefly compare the jazz scene in Chicago with that of New Orleans.
Brown: The main difference is that Chicago is looser and more avant-garde. Free jazz is really big there. Straight-ahead jazz is bigger there than in New Orleans. New Orleans is more traditional but funky place.
BET Jazz: What was it like playing with saxophonist Fred Anderson, who’s mostly known as being an avant-garde player?
Brown: Fred was very key in my musical development. People like him and Von Freeman really took me underneath their wings when I was in Chicago. To play with Fred is always a spiritual thing, because most of the time we don’t use [scored] music. The last album we did at the Velvet Lounge, it was a live date and I wasn’t even supposed to be on it. They were recording the gig when I walked in and they asked me to play. I was going to leave but they asked me to stay to play on the gig; it turned out to be on the album. We played with no music, just total vibing.
BET Jazz: Take me back to the time Wynton Marsalis encouraged you to develop your musical skills?
Brown: When I first met Wynton, all this playing the trumpet was just a game to me. I wasn’t taking it seriously. I had a bunch of other things going on. I’m also a black-belt in Tae-Kwan Do. I played basketball all during junior high and high school. Meeting Wynton made me put everything else aside and say, “I really got something with this music.”
He told me, “Never stop playing. Keep practicing and practicing; you’ll be great. You might be even greater than me.” Things like that really got me motivated. If Wynton Marsalis can see this in me, I really believed that I had something. Music wasn’t a game anymore.
BET Jazz: Who are some of the more influential trumpet players for you and why?
Brown: Well, Kenny Dorham for the way he connected his lines. I’m a huge fan of Fats Navarro. I think a lot of today’s cats are coming out of him. He’s really the first cat to lay bebop down on trumpet.
I also like Freddie Hubbard, who was the first person to say, “I don’t care.” He really played but didn’t care what people thought of his music. And he played from his heart. That’s real key in music for me, because you have to be honest; people have to hear the honesty when you play. You can’t try to be something that you’re not.
Of course, Dizzy Gillespie was a big inspiration for me. His skills as a leader set a good example for everybody. He gave everybody what they wanted; he was the people’s champion.
And you can’t leave Miles Davis out. He influenced me by how he always stayed true to the melody. Nowadays, a lot of cats don’t stay true to the melody. They’re so busy trying to play everything that you can’t hear the melody. You can play the melody with a lot of notes. That’s the trick. My song, “Conceptions,” has notes for days but you still can hear the melody.
The Year's Best Recordings
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In one of the most startling debuts of the year, 23-year-old trumpeter Brown -- a Chicagoan now base...In one of the most startling debuts of the year, 23-year-old trumpeter Brown -- a Chicagoan now based in New Orleans -- announced himself as a triple-threat artist, equally effective as virtuoso trumpeter, versatile composer and supremely confident bandleader. That a musician of Brown's young vintage could conceive a work as harmonically bold and structurally intricate as "Rapture," the recording's explosive opening track, suggests that this talent runs deep. So does "It's a New Day," with its unforgettably catchy main riff; "Mi Amor," a ballad of remarkable melodic beauty and poise; and the hard-charging, bebop-inspired "Look Ma No Hands."
From The Big Easy To The Big Time
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At just 23 years old, Maurice Brown has quickly made a name for himself in Chicago, New Orleans and ...At just 23 years old, Maurice Brown has quickly made a name for himself in Chicago, New Orleans and beyond. Growing up in Chicago, Brown began playing the trumpet and started to take music seriously when Wynton Marsalis singled him out at an eighth grade workshop. Wynton told him he had 'it' and he should "never stop playing." Brown, in turn, started practicing as much as possible - up to 16 hours a day! In his teenage years, he won NARAS' all state high school talent competition, which resulted in a performance with the National Grammy Band. Brown later went on to Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA to study with clarinetist Alvin Batiste.
A move to New Orleans allowed Brown to progress to the next level. In addition to gigs as a sideman working with Ramsey Lewis, Ellis Marsalis and Jeff "Tain" Watts, Brown leads a quintet, which recently released an inspired danceable modern jazz album called Hip to Bop. He also heads a hip-hop/funk band called Soul'd U Out. Every Tuesday, Brown's quintet plays at New Orleans premiere jazz club Snug Harbor, which is no small feat considering that the only names that appear weekly at the club are Marsalis and Neville. Last year, Brown received an ASCAP Foundation Young Jazz Composer Award and was selected to perform his winning piece at the ASCAP Jazz Wall of Fame reception ceremony.
Maurice Brown recently spoke with Playback about bop, the Big Easy and writing music.
Tell me a little bit about your songwriting process.
I try to stay true to the melody in everything that I do. When I hear something, I'll stop and write it down. If I'm not in a position where I can write it down, I'll call my voicemail and leave the melody there. I don't sit down and try to compose tunes. I just let them come to me from inspiration. A lot of the tunes on the record, I wrote for the players that are in my quintet - to showcase their strong points and to cover up their weaknesses.
How much has New Orleans rubbed off on you in comparison to Chicago?
About even in my head because they both have qualities that rub off on me in both culture and environment. The Chicago sound is more avant-garde jazz, but also more straight-ahead. New Orleans has more traditional jazz with a brass band kind of feel. With the combination of those two, you can't really go wrong.
Brown with Ellis Marsalis at New Orleans Jazz Fest 2004
Your album is called Hip to Bop. Does the title reflect this album or more so your music in general?
I think the title reflects both the CD and my music in general. We're talking about hip-hop and bebop. When I say hip-hop, I'm not necessarily talking about rap. We have a little motto that we go by: In order to be hip, you must bop. We're all focused on trying to make sure everything is swinging and you can really move to everything you hear. That hip-hop groove feel.
The album is all original material that you solely wrote. Is that a statement about your music, to not include a cover or standard?
The one thing that I'm really into is writing original compositions and a lot of people are playing a lot of standards these days. I play a lot of standards too, but when you write original compositions, you get to find your voice quicker than if you're just playing standards all the time. Something that Elvin Jones told me once will stick with me forever, he said, "Be true to the music, and the music will be true to you." That is essentially what I am trying to do.
Where do see yourself fitting into jazz?
I don't know. I guess we just have to wait and see where everyone else wants to put me! All I'm concerned about is making good music, and affecting people in a positive way by giving people inspiration and giving hope to music. As far as the Soul'd U Out band, that's been really helping the Quintet because all the fans we get from the Soul'd U Out band come to the jazz quintet concerts, and they love that too. So we're mixing the audience that way and blurring the lines. People know the difference between good music and bad music; they just need to be exposed to it.
The length of a set depends on event and/or venue. In a club setting, two one hour sets is preferred. In concert, an ideal set is 75 - 90 minutes.
A set list for Maurice Brown includes original material with a couple arrangements of covers, and takes the listener on a journey through different styles and moods.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.