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HOWARD ALDEN /
ANDY BROWN QUARTET

Heavy Artillery

Delmark DE 5008

 

 

1. Louisiana

2. Chuckles

3. Vocé E Eu

4. I Had The Craziest Dream

5. Three And One

6. No One Else But You

7. Brigas Nunca Mais

8. Heavy Artillery

9. I Brung You Finjans For Your Zarf

10. If Dreams Come True

 

Howard Alden – Guitar (left channel)

Andy Brown – Guitar (right Channel)

Joe Policastro – Bass

Bob Rummage – Drums

 

One of the great cool mainstream jazz guitarists Johnny Smith, who died earlier this year, said the following about Howard Alden: “Howard Alden belongs to a small group of the very best jazz guitarists in the world.” As for Andy Brown, here is what Down Beat magazine had to say about him: “Andy Brown happens to be an uncommonly good player with a modesty that brings to mind the fine Canadian guitarist Ed Bickert and a warmth suggestive of Joe Pass.” Bring these two musicians together on their release entitled Heavy Artillery and you get a session worthy of its title.

This iteration of the Quartet was formed in 2010, although the two guitarists have been playing together for a considerably longer period and found that their styles meshed well. When it came time to record the Quartet, it seemed sensible to make the best use of stereo technology with Howard Alden profiled on the left channel and Andy Brown on the right channel to take advantage of their individual musical voices. The band worked from a set list that capitalized on each guitarist’s extensive repertoire covering a wide range of songs from several genres of both well-known and lesser-played compositions. Louisiana leads off the session with Alden and Brown giving a taste of what’s to come as they trade off single-note lines and then each moves into a supporting role while bassist Policastro and drummer Rummage provide unfaltering rhythmic support. The intricate interplay between the two guitarists shines though even more on the two guitar duo tracks I Had The Craziest Dream and If Dreams Come True. Here one can sense that Alden and Brown act as foils for each other and subtly exhort themselves to move to a higher plain.

For a change of pace, two lovely Brazilian bossa nova compositions Vocé E Eu and Brigas Nunca Mais bring out the guitarists’ sensibilities for the genre and confirm their understanding of the rhythmic dynamics that drive the music. The title track Heavy Artillery is a Django Reinhardt composition that has his gypsy antecedents referenced throughout the tune, and yet Alden and Brown bring a new freshness to the style. Alden and Brown had to dig through the library of obscure tunes to come up with the Red Norvo/Tal Farlow composition I Brung You Finjans For Your Zarf which was originally done by Norvo on a 1956 Fantasy red vinyl release entitled Red Norvo With Strings – the strings being Red Mitchell bass and Tal Farlow guitar. This rendition is no less sassy and comes together in an understated way.

This is a solid outing from two exemplary guitarists.

Pierre Giroux



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