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Oct 15th 2004


Smooth Groove - Norman Brown Norman Brown ft: Carol Riddick - I Might: (Warner Bros)


Guitarist Norman Brown has been dropping album after album of some of the best jazz music around the last 12 years ever since his debut set 'After the Storm' hit store shelves in 1992. After winning a grammy in the 'Best Pop Instrumental' category (beats me that he didn't get it in the Jazz category) for his last release 'Just Chilling' in 2002, it was about time the world was made aware of Norman's immense talent. Speaking of his talent the bar was set for Norman for him to answer the question of 'Can he top 'Just Chilling' - well the answer is yes he can.

Norman returns with his latest release 'West Coast Coolin' - an album of both covers and originals that embrace the jazz genre and takes it up a notch - Norman Brown style. Last time out Norman tried his hand at singing on a few tracks and now fans want more

"My fans kept asking me to do more singing," explains Brown "At the same time I wanted to go further into some of the great Soul and R&B sounds that have been such a tremendous influence on me. I tried to bring those two goals together on this new album." And he did with the assistance of some top-level producers in Paul Brown, keyboardist on the last 3 albums for Norman, as well as the tandom team of James Poyser and Viktor Dupliax (known for their work with the likes of Jill Scott, Erykah Badu and D'Angelo), all of whom help laid down the foundation of Just Chillin as well.

The end result is a refreshing breath of fresh air in 'West Coast Coolin' - an album that's sexual and sensual (where the music is concerned) and seems to bridge the gap between R&B, Soul and Jazz.

Hailing from Shreveport, La Norman's parents had relocated to Kansas City when he was 8 years old. It was here that he first came aquainted with the electricfying brilliance of Jimi Hendrix and he too wanted to play the guitar in the same manner but his father a steelworker introduced him to Jazz legend Wes Montgomery and Norman's course was set - he wanted to be a jazz instrumentalist.

After graduating high school, Brown headed west to study at the renowned Musician's Institute in Los Angeles, eventually landing a teaching job at the school even as he put together his first jazz combo and began playing on the city's thriving club scene. Brown had already garnered a small but fanatical following when he landed his first recording contract with Motown Records.

Back to the music though, the track I chose to review today is 'I Might' a smooth groove number that shines on all levels. Featuring Norman and singer Carol Riddick on vocals, the song isn't the typical fair in jazz soul but rather it offers a ray of sunshine for you to store in your memory for your rainy days. Excellent production and Norman's playing are the highlights but it's just a satisfying track from start to finish.

The album is in stores now so with Christmas just around the corner you might want to put this one on your shopping list. A worthy TY-D pick indeed - period


Listen to Norman Brown ft: Carol Riddick - 'I Might'




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