In an effort to be more Chicago- centric on this blog I’ve decided to feature a Chicago musician every month and also review a album from said artist. This month I chose Ari Brown and his album “Live At The Green Miill”. When I think of Chicago Jazz two things quickly come to mind, Ari Brown and The Green Mill. The Green Mill is an iconic Jazz club in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood.  This album was performed live there in the span of a couple days in June 2007. With Kirk Brown on piano, Yosef Ben Israel on bass, Pharez Whitehead on trumpet, and Avreeayl Ra on drums, and of course, Ari Brown on sax, this album is as Chicago as it gets.

The opening tune “Richard’s tune” begins with horns playing the melody while the rhythm section follows up with hits. The next section has the band swinging while the horns play the melody. The melody is simple, but catching and effective in drawing the listener in. By the time they play through the head most could hum along to it. Ari Brown solos first and wastes no time getting right into his shedding. You hear running eight note lines, blues riffs, and melodic and rhythmic development. I especially enjoy how attentive the rhythm section is. They respond and collaborate with Ari Brown on this solo. Ari Brown’s solo ends at 5: 50 with applause from the crowd.

Pharez Whitehead solos next and a lot of his solo reminds me of Freddie Hubbard. He plays with his type of sound and similar licks and trills. I especially enjoy Kirk Brown on piano. He really utilizes the entire band and builds up energy that the rest of the band gives back to him. After Brown’s solo we go back to the head and conclude the tune.

Another notable tune is ” Two Gun V” where which has a more electric funk inspired sound. Here Ari Brown plays both tenor and soprano sax. The crowd goes nuts for this and it really adds to the energy in the room. You can hear the group playing with just a bit more aggression when the crowd roars. It’s subtle, but it’s there. Kirk Brown solos first and plays a lot of good rhythmic ideas and a few chordal ideas as well. Ari Brown solos next and starts with a soft solo. You can hear the dynamics actually go down from the piano to sax solo when usual the opposite happens. These are the only two solos as the rest the tune concludes following with a one minute, free jazz sounding outro.

This album, in short, is brilliant. From beginning to end it’s an enjoyable experience of original compositions being played live. The band communicates and solos at a professional level. I highly recommend that every Chicagoan and jazz enthusiast buy this album. Ari Brown is still very much involved in the scene here in Chicago and he’s an absolute must see artist if you are in town or if he comes to a town near you.


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