Monday, November 12, 2012

Review: Deborah Brown- All Too Soon

I've said it time and time again and I'll say it once more- Deborah Brown is Kansas City's premier jazz vocalist. 

Brown's superb new album All Too Soon serves to solidify my opinion.  Brown's lustrous voice is in spectacular form.  Unlike far too many so-called jazz vocalists, Brown doesn't sound like a frustrated pop artist who only recently discovered Ella Fitzgerald.  She's the genuine article.  It's no coincidence that Brown can regularly be spotted in the audience at instrumental jazz gigs.

An expert band led by Eric Ineke backs Brown on All Too Soon.  While the recording is pristine, Brown and Ineke's charges sound as if they inhabit 1962.  The project holds its own against Nancy Wilson's 1960 album Something Wonderful and Ella Fitzgerald's 1962 album Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie!.

Yet until now, the internet doesn't contain a single review of All Too Soon.  Brown remains a virtual non-entity among jazz fans- both in her home town and throughout the United States.  Brown's low stature isn't a complete mystery.  She's her own worst enemy.  Brown's woeful site doesn't list her forthcoming tour dates nor does it even mention All Too Soon.  I assume she hasn't solicited jazz journalists about the project. 

Even if the "right" people received press kits promoting All Too Soon, there's no guarantee that the album would be well-received.  The taste-makers who advocate Vijay Iyer and Jason Moran might be inclined to believe that Brown's throwback swing is passé.  That argument is playing out locally here and here.

Finally, race, age and appearance almost certainly contribute to the ongoing neglect of Brown.  As has been suggested elsewhere, non-musical considerations help explain why Diana Krall fills large venues while Dee Dee Bridgewater performs in clubs.  Meanwhile, friends and family continue to tell me about the "great new jazz singer" Nikki Yanofsky.  The Canadian teen, not coincidentally, looks as if she belongs on the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine.  It's the difference between a McDonald’s McRib and a mixed plate at Gates Bar-B-Q or between Miller Lite and The Sixth Glass from Boulevard Brewing.

All Too Soon is the seasoned work of a consummate swing-based jazz vocalist. 

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)


Low Rider said...

Charisma is an important ingredient to any top tier performer. Depending on how you define the word of course.
Is charisma in the eye of the beholder.

Diana Krall has a lot more charisma then Dee Dee. Dee Dee is hard to watch. She has these unorthodox mannerisms and gestures that distract from the music. Shirley Horn on the other hand had great charisma. Not what you would call glamorous though.

Karrin's voice has charisma but she looks awkward on the bandstand. Too macho perhaps.She translates better on recordings.

To me, Kurt Elling and Eddie Jefferson have charisma. Eddie had some funky mannerisms but he had an endearing quality. Kevin Mahogany, not so much.

Deborah is a fantastic musician, So is Marilyn Maye.

What separates the "big names" from the not household names?

Please weigh in.

Anonymous said...

Asking people to weigh in? You must not read the comment threads on this blog. Strap yourself in boys, here we go.

Cb said...

*Charisma is an important ingredient to any top tier performer. Depending on how you define the word of course.
Is charisma in the eye of the beholder.*

? Yes, what you are calling is in the eye of the beholder.

If there is anything "wrong" with the music in our age, it is that people "see" a performance, rather than "listen" to a performance. In my humble estimation "listening" should win out over how interesting an artist is to "look" at.

But, US (and arguably the entire world population - see PSY the hundreds of millions of views of his video on YouTube) society is based largely upon "pop culture" trends and conditioned to that type of perspective. Creative jazz/improvised music is not from that same place. So, the points you raised here are not necessarily objectively based upon the music itself - again, my humble opinions.

I would personally rather go "hear" a great performance, than "see" a so-called interesting one when it comes to this type of thoughtful music. Most of the time, artists who put on a great "visual" show, lose the spontaneity that is essential to this music.

Peace, Cb
- - -
P.S. - HIB, you should allow the "target" tag so that links can be coded to open in new links.

Leo said...


Why pay $50 a ticket to "hear" a great perfomance when I can hear that same great performace over and over again listening to my jazz collection.

On another note, the AJM website looks awesome. I assume you are responsible for that. Great work my man!!