Posts Tagged ‘ Human Nature ’

BWB – Human Nature

Eleven years after their first collaboration, three former members of the Warner Bros. Jazz family are reunited. Trumpeter Rick Braun, saxophonist Kirk Whalum and guitarist Norman Brown, BWB, are back with Human Nature (Heads Up, 2013), a tribute to the King of Pop, Michael Jackson.

The trio had performed together in various combinations and appeared as guests on one another’s albums before coming together with Groovin’ (WB Jazz, 2002). Since then, they continued to assist, individually or as a trio on subsequent recordings. Braun plays trumpet, flugelhorn and valve trumpet. Whalum plays tenor sax and flute. The rest of the band consists of Braylon Lacy, bass; Khari Parker, drums; John Stoddard, keyboards and background vocals; Lenny Castro, percussion; Ralph Lofton, Hammond B3 organ; and Shelea, guest vocalist on “Human Nature.”

The set begins in funky fashion. Aided by Lacy’s bass line groove, the trio of leaders takes on “Another Part of Me.” Braun, Whalum and Brown take turns on the melody, but all three converge on the main rhythm after a couple of passes. Each steps out doing his thing during the middle break.

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BWB – Human Nature

In the contemporary jazz firmament, do stars get bigger than Rick Braun, Kirk Whalum and Norman Brown? And in the rock and pop world, do stars get bigger than Michael Jackson? Is it really 11 years since “Groovin’”?

If you’re going to make a tribute to the King of Pop, it better be funky right off the bat – and it is! “Another Part of Me” has an irrestible groove and some killer horn work. That groove still leaves space for solos and the guys all weigh in with some short, sweet spots that give a great taster of what’s to come. No way was “Billie Jean” going to be left off this playlist and the dancefloor rumble is replaced with a crisp rhythm that again allows some nice blowing and horn ensemble work. Loving the flute touches that creep in here. Norman Brown scats gorgeously on this song. The instant I first heard him in 1994, I loved his sound – nothing’s changed.

Muted trumpet and brushes are absolutely the way to introduce the scintillating title track. Sheléa’s lead vocal winds effortlessly around the classiest of musical backings. Liberties are taken with some chord progressions and I love it. A great song like this has a number of building blocks which talented guys like this can move around to suit themselves while remaining true to the original vibe. It sounds like the Police are playing funk when you hear the reggae skip of “Beat It”. This is done with such panache and wit that you’ll smile, I hope, just as much as I’m doing as I type this. You won’t hear Eddie Van Halen but Mr. Brown burns more on this number than you’re maybe used to.

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BWB – Human Nature

Michael Jackson throws after his death still a powerful shadow. After Bob Baldwin’s tribute album Never Can Say Goodbye three further giants of smooth jazz present their very own homage Human Nature (2013). BWB is named after the musicians Rick Braun, Kirk Whalum and Norman Brown. Their first co-operation Groovin’ was released in 2002 on Warner Brothers. With their sophomore effort they reunited to do a Michael Jackson songbook.

The formation is joined by John Stoddart (keyboards), Braylon Lacey (bass), Khari Parker (drums), Lenny Castro (percussion) and Ralph Lofton (organ). To do an album of just covers carries some risk, especially when the original is so often played. On the other hand good jazz musicians have to overcome such obstacles.

That said the trio improvise on Another Part Of Me presenting their special skills and perfect written arrangement, thus transforming a well-known tune to a jazzy element. With Billie Jean they showcase brilliantly created harmonies. The concept is illustrated anew with the song Human Nature. A simple designed melody develops to a well thought out piece.

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BWB – Human Nature

HumanNatureIndividually, they are three titans of contemporary music: Rick Braun, the gifted trumpeter/flugelhornist with the golden voice; GRAMMY® Award-winning tenor saxophonist Kirk Whalum, the Memphis-born wunderkind who mixes Beale Street, gospel, the blues and bop; and Norman Brown, the GRAMMY®-winning guitarist who brings a Louisiana lilt to his Wes Montgomery/George Benson influenced six-string soulful strut. They came together eleven years ago as the supergroup known as BWB and their historic album Groovin’, made them one of the most sought-after groups at that time.

This terrific triad reassembles with the June 18, 2013 release of Human Nature on Heads Up International, a division of Concord Music Group (international release dates may vary). This long-awaited sequel to their debut project spotlights BWB’s stupendous reimaging of eleven selections made famous by the King of Pop, Michael Jackson.

“We made the first BWB record in 2002 when we were all on Warner Bros. Jazz,” Braun says. “We did a world tour behind the record. And then we’ve all been off doing our own thing – so this is really a reunion. We have an incredible amount of respect for each other: We phrase together. We complete each other’s sentences, musically. We’re really just a good bunch of guys making music, and grateful to be doing that.” Continue reading