Rayford Griffin – Reflections Of Brownie – RazorEdge 39:15 ***:
A new age inquiry into a musical institution.
(Rayford Griffin – drums; Phillippe Saisse – keyboards; Everette Harp – saxophone; Doug Webb – saxophone; Rock Braun – trumpet ; Brian Bromberg – bass; Michael “Patches” Stewart – trumpet; George Duke – keyboard ; Nicolas Peyton – trumpet; Roy Hargrove – trumpet)
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Rayford Griffin’s recorded “homage” to his uncle, Clifford Brown, entitled Reflections Of Brownie would fall into that category. While not in the hard bop tradition, but rather a smooth jazz approach to the material, it nevertheless fulfills an inquiry into a musical institution.
In the Twilight Zone of introductions, imagine if you will, the voice of MC Pee Wee Marquette live from Birdland in NYC at some point in the early 1950s, introducing “the trumpet sensation Clifford Brown”, which segues into Griffin’s re-imagining of Brown’s own composition “Daahoud”. Griffin’s arrangements feature a wall of sound approach driven by drums/bass interaction and the two keyboardists Phillippe Saisse and the late George Duke who create thematic palates of sound. On Ray Noble’s “Cherokee” the tune is offered in almost a ballad form rather than the frantic version of Brown’s original. It comes off surprisingly well as Roy Hargrove works his trumpet magic on the number.
“Jordu” by Duke Jordan features the muted trumpet of Michael “Patches” Stewart, supported by the rhythmic inventions of Griffin’s drumming. The final two tracks on the session are both Brown originals namely “Sandu” and the more recognizable “Joy Spring”. On the former number, despite the sonority of the keyboards, the original bop feel of the tune comes through with trumpeter Nicolas Peyton in charge and saxophonist Doug Webb with an interesting solo. On the latter, the texture and contrast of the arrangement with its harmonic tension and demonstrative resilience gives the composition its physicality.
TrackList: Daahoud; Cherokee; Jordu; Willow Weep For Me; Sandu; Joy Spring