John Brown – Quiet Time – Brown Boulevard Records, 74:47 (2/14/14) ****:

(John Brown – bass; Ray Codrington – trumpet, Flugelhorn; Brian Miller – saxophones; Gabe Evans-  piano; Adonis Rose – drums)

It is not often that a “theme” for a CD comes completely together. There is usually either some filler or something that detracts (even in a very minor way) from meeting the stated goal. That is what makes the new release, from bassist John Brown, so wonderful. It’s release date on Valentine’s Day is a wise marketing decision as the music on Quiet Time is both romantic and resplendent. It’s theme of quietude can be explored both in a solitary setting or with someone special in your life. This is not “snoozy” smooth jazz, but rather a soulful journey covering a wide spectrum of both well known soul-drenched classics (Ray Charles’ “Come Live With Me,” “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” James Taylor’s “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight”), along with lesser known songs from Elvin Jones, Oscar Peterson, and Dr. Lonnie Smith. Brown penned the title track, while band member, Gabe Evans, contributes “Lost.”

What is a constant on this CD is a consistent groove that never lets up, where you both take notice and  let the music take you to a relaxed place, where you can let the daily stresses we all face melt away. For nearly 75 minutes, you can retreat to an inner space of satisfied reflection.

Brown has recorded tributes to Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, and Duke Ellington in recent releases. On Quiet Time , the trumpet and saxophone mix of prime Blue Note Blakey, combines with the polished presentation of an Ellington ballad. Everything just works…

Brian Miller’s saxophone drips with greasy sweetness on the opener, Come Live With Me, and Gabe Evans would make Brother Ray proud with his Sunday morning best piano lines. Trumpeter Codrington has a brief  “Nawlins” solo mid-track. The title track is a feature for the Flugelhorn with the rhythm section in a reflective mood. The mood set here would be perfect for a romantic movie’s theme.  Dr. Lonnie Smith’s “As the World Weeps” is re-worked in “…And the Willow Weeps” but the mournful funeral procession mood remains.

John worked with iconic drummer, Elvin Jones’ Jazz Machine band, and Brown honors the master with Jones’ “A Lullaby of Itsugo Village,” based on a Japanese folk melody. Codrington’s muted trumpet channels classic 1950s Miles Davis. It’s a deeply moving tune and fits in nicely with the CD’s serenity, even as  Brian Miller stretches out a bit with some passionate saxophone emoting.

The standard, “You Don’t Know What Love Is” provides more late night listening when the lights are low. Gerald Wilson’s “Theme for Monterey” written by Gerald for a long- awaited 1997 commissioned performance at the Monterey Jazz Festival, has the quintet performing the first movement of Wilson’s extended suite as a tender ballad.

James Taylor’s “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight” is given a gospel reading, and avoids the saccharine treatment that this song often receives. It’s a fitting ending for the valentine gift that John V Brown provides to his audience. Share some “quiet time” with someone you love…

TrackList: Come Live With Me, Quiet Time, …and the Willow Weeps, When Summer Comes, A Lullaby of Itsugo Village, You Don’t Know What Love Is, When October Comes, Theme for Monterey, Lost, Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight

—Jeff Krow