Jewel Brown’s Album” Thanks For Good Ole Music And Memories” Released Today, Friday, January 13th
Did You Hear About Jewel?
With Thanks for Good Ole’ Music and Memories …
Reintroducing the one and only, the legendary Jewel Brown!
The music industry is full of stories. Some good. Some not so good. But it must be said, it’s not every day that a magical storyline like Jewel Brown’s comes around.
Her journey started back before her teen years. Like most musical talents at the time, Jewel began singing in the church. But it didn’t take her long to start a commercial singing career. In fact, she played her first show when she was just 12, and she was cutting records by the time she was a teenager. Brown recorded a handful of hit songs with Clyde Otis in the mid-’50s for Liberty Records and by the early ’60s she was playing jazz clubs nationally, many of which happened to be owned by Jack Ruby. Yep, that Jack Ruby.
But Jewel Brown was and still is, best known for her work with Louis Armstrong and His All-Star Band. She sang with Satchmo from 1961 until 1968, until Armstrong fell ill. She continued singing for a while after her stint with Armstrong, headlining shows, mainly in Vegas. She stepped out of the limelight in the early ’70s, not because there wasn’t a demand for her talent, but because it was time for her to care for her aging parents.
But her success didn’t end with show biz. Jewel started up numerous businesses and enjoyed a successful career as, of all things, an insurance agent, a career she nurtured until retiring from the business in 2000. Jewel still receives calls from people looking to buy insurance from someone “they can trust.”
Though retired, her generations of fans didn’t allow her musical legacy to be forgotten. In 2007 she was inducted into the Blues Smithsonian and in 2015 she received a congressional acknowledgment for her contribution to the arts. And, in 2020, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner set aside December 12, 2020, as Jewel Brown Day.
But the story’s not over, not by a longshot. Today, Jewel Brown is back, this time, for the first time, with songs of her own. Thanks for Good Ole’ Music and Memories is Brown’s long-awaited new recording, done in collaboration with Nic Allen (better known as Joe Sample’s longtime musical director). “Over the years,” she notes in her bio, “I had the opportunity to work with various songwriters, but I never put my name on anything. I feel like the Lord has given back to me what was taken, and I’ve enjoyed doing a lot of writing lately with Nic.”
The ten jazz and blues tracks on the album reflect that collaboration. While it nods to Brown’s legacy, revisiting two songs that form important chapters in her musical history (the brilliantly updated opener “Did You Hear About Jerry” and the lush “Song of the Dreamer,” written by her ex-husband Eddie Curtis.) But there’s so much more, including the rockin’ cover “Which Way Is Up,” the a cappella “Pain and Glory,” the jazzy “Why Did You Do That,” and the boppin’, bluesy closer “How Did It Go.” The recording is rich and full, showcasing great playing and Brown’s elegant, sage-like vocals.
So, no, it’s not your typical throwaway comeback recording. Thanks for Good Ole’ Music and Memories is an inspired reintroduction of an impressive talent, an important musical figure, and, best of all, an incredible voice.
Mixed Media Promotion
On his four recordings with the Tim Ray Trio, all on Whaling City Sound, Greg Abate finds himself on an endless quest for the true essence of jazz. Throughout this exploration, Abate, a massive talent, acquits himself as energetic, creative, and exhilarating
Which is why it’s such a treat to listen to his latest work with the Tim Ray Trio, Gratitude: Stage Door Live @ The Z. On stage, Abate is a force, a paragon of power and passion. Offstage, Abate is experienced, and a student of jazz. Live, he wrests control of the form, a force majeure, and proves that few in the jazz vernacular today can keep pace with him.
The album itself is a joy. With no formal rehearsals, and subsequently, no overdubs, mulligans, and re-do’s, the band captures its performance in truth, in full, and in the moment. With the seasoned support of Ray (piano), John Lockwood (bass) and Mark Walker (drums), Abate and his various horns (alto, tenor and baritone saxes, as well as flute) cruise through a slate of mainly originals, along with Joe Henderson’s “Inner Urge” and Roland Kirk’s “Serenade to a Cuckoo,” done here on tenor sax rather than the customary flute. “Dracula” spotlights Abate, Ray, and Walker, in that order, in a concise span of five minutes. In all, the performances are loose and fun without being casual. These guys are, after all, some of the best on the scene.
The intimacy of the venue also helped propel the session. The Zeiterion Theater is a stellar place and allows the band to stretch out. Ray’s version of Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz” is a ten-minute blast, with rollicking passages interspersed with Lockwood and Walker each stepping into the spotlight.
Capturing the live energy is a difficult task, especially in jazz, where the frequencies are so varied. But the session, recorded and mixed by John Mailloux, is superb.
Abate is one of the hardest working men in jazz. Every year, when it seems like it might be time to slow it down, Abate revs it up, booking more shows, more clinics, and teaching more classes. He jet sets it when necessary, making repeated trips overseas to find his audiences. For now, he’s left us with the incendiary Gratitude: Stage Door Live @ The Z a postcard from the road, sent with the heat, beauty, and passion of genuine bebop.
By: C. Michael Bailey
Serbian vocalist Alma Micic‘s 2014 Tonight (CTA Records) was a welcome addition to the jazz vocals discography because of its bold repertoire and compelling performance. Micic returns with a decidedly more focused and refined recording that mixes the new and old with her own original “Ne Zaboravi me” and Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon” with durable standbys, “That Old feeling” and “Blue Moon.” Micic is joined by guitarist and husband Rale Micic, bassist Corcoran Holt, drummer Jonathan Blake and vibraphonist Tom Beckham, the latter whose presence provides the recital a playful sepia patina. Both Micics and Beckham tear it up on “Moonglow” and then, “Cry Me a River” and “Honeysuckle Rose” in a triptych highlighting the first half of the 20th Century. Micic’s voice is red-wine complex with subtle notes of Eastern Europe. The best selection on the recording, easily, is “Estate” which the Micics perform as a duet. That Old Feeling is a fine follow-up to Tonight and precedes some doubtlessly fine.
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To buy That Old Feeling, click here
By: Jack Bowers
People who have an aversion to bugs (do you know any?) may hesitate to purchase (or even review) an album whose title epitomizes the very thing they abhor. But even though multi-instrumentalist Miles Donahue‘s new album does nod to that often-despised creature and even includes a song by that name, there is more to it than that; one might even say that Donahue removed the most of the “bugs” from the studio before he and his colleagues started recording.
One of the reasons that Donahue, who plays alto sax, trumpet and flugelhorn on The Bug, isn’t more widely known is that he chose to raise a family in his native New England rather than seek his fame and fortune in a wider arena, although he did spend time in Europe almost two decades ago before resuming a career in education with performance as a sideline. As this album marks his debut for Whaling City Sound, Donahue helped assure its merit by assembling a blue-ribbon supporting cast that includes guitarist Mike Stern, pianist Tim Ray and drummer Ralph Peterson. Going one step further, Donahue asked one of his college classmates if he would be able to make the gig, and Jerry Bergonzi said yes, he would.
To read the full review, click here
To buy Miles Donahue’s new album, click here