Maurice Brown Quintet | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Maurice Brown Quintet 

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When trumpeter Maurice Brown left Chicago a couple years back he was a precociously talented kid, intoxicated by his own dazzling technique but just sober enough to respect tradition. He returns as an inventive genre blender, the leader of his own hot band, and the toast of his adopted hometown, New Orleans, where his weekly sessions at Snug Harbor have become a must-see. Even Chicagoans who already knew about Brown--from Jazz Festival shots in 2001 and 2003 and a slew of guest appearances at local clubs--were surprised and impressed by his debut, Hip to Bop, which he released on his own label last year. As the title suggests, it references classic jazz and contemporary grooves from funk, soul, and hip-hop, not only moving between them from track to track but also--and more important--combining them within a single cut. The straight-ahead jazz tune "Look Ma No Hands," in the timeless style of the Jazz Messengers, could scorch a Chicago summer sidewalk. But on "Anazao" Brown transforms an equally searing hard-bop line by applying Fender Rhodes piano, electrically distorted trumpet, and a beatbox-derived rhythm--and this open-eared approach dominates the disc, one of the breakthrough jazz albums of 2004. Brown has made several visits back home over the last couple years, notably as a long-distance member of the New Horizons Ensemble, but this is his first chance to show off his own group. See also Saturday. Fri 8/12, 9 PM, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway, 773-878-5552, $12.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Jackson.

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