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Brown's further definition

June 23, 2005|Don Heckman | Special to The Times

The buzz about Maurice Brown began in August, when his debut album, "Hip to Bop," was released. The 24-year-old, New Orleans-based trumpeter was praised as a talent with major-league potential. His performance Tuesday at the Jazz Bakery provided an opportunity for Southlanders to evaluate Brown up close, while also indicating whether the album's occasional groove-oriented tunes marked a new perspective on the combination of jazz and current pop styles.

Brown met the musical evaluation with flying colors. But his blend of jazz improvising with pop elements, on "A New Day," was less effective. Performed as the final tune, it paled in comparison to what preceded it.

Opening with the standard "Alone Together," Brown quickly established his credentials as a talented young player with a style rooted in the clear articulateness of Clifford Brown (no relation) and transformed by his own free-flying ideas. His partner in the frontline, tenor saxophonist Derek Douget, was equally adventurous, blending an airy sound with vigorous, all-over-the-horn excursions.

Other material included a thoughtful rendering of Duke Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood" and Brown's own fascinating composition "Rapture." Each was delivered with expansive improvising in which both horn players, powerfully supported by a rhythm section of piano, bass and drums, ranged across a spectrum from driving bebop to envelope-stretching, free jazz improvising.

Though he arrived with music labeled as crossover, Brown instead offered the promise of an energetic, imaginative, youthful exploration of the jazz mainstream. And that, ultimately, was far more compelling than yet another effort to squeeze jazz into transitory pop sounds.


Maurice Brown

Where: The Jazz Bakery, 3233 Helms Ave., L.A.

When: 8 and 9:30 tonight through Sunday

Price: $25

Info: (310) 271-9039

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