Sunday, March 3, 2019

Album Review: Norman Brown- The Highest Act of Love

I tried on a posh fur coat in a bid to amuse my family and friends at a holiday party in December,  While I got plenty of laughs for modeling something I would never otherwise consider wearing, the joke was on me.  I discovered that donning the pelts of dozens of dead animals feels really good.  While I’ve been conditioned to think less of people who wear fur, I suddenly comprehended the appeal.

Smooth jazz carries a similar stigma.  Condescending detractors deride the form as an intellectually barren music intended for dimwitted sensualists.  Whatever.

Anyone who willingly hits play on Norman Brown’s eleventh solo album The Highest Act of Love will quickly become too blissed out to worry about such trivial matters.  The guitarist from Kansas City expertly establishes an impeccably relaxing vibe.  What’s wrong with that?

While The Highest Act of Love employs contemporary production techniques, it’s really just an extension of the sultry albums George Benson recorded for the CTI label in the early 1970s.  Brown emphasizes mood rather than technique.  Even so, selections including the title track make it clear that he’s capable of playing with as much finesse as Benson, Lee Ritenour and his Kansas City contemporary Will Matthews.

I’ll understand if you tag me with spray paint should you catch me luxuriating in a fur coat next winter.  I only ask that you don’t damage my headphones.  I might be basking in the comforting warmth of The Highest Act of Love.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

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