Saturday, February 12, 2011

Brush Lopez Trio - Live at White's Bar CD

Recorded at White's Bar on September 16,2001, "Brush/Lopez (with Mark Dault) Live" is like a phone call from an old lover. It's warm and comforting with more than a hint of sensuousness. The vibe is relaxed and underscored by a message of love and friendship. It's a mature work performed by consummate artists. Mike Brush is an exceptional keyboardist with an expressive bluesy vocal style that recalls Tom Waits and the more sensual musings of Boz Scaggs. Ron Lopez is one of the most tasteful and economical guitarists this side of Wes Montgomery. And Mark Dault..well..he's just one helluva drummer. He is attuned to musical spaces and the ambient tones he creates to accentuate the trio's overall sound. A true master that doesn't forget the "feel" of the music. This 8 song set captures the trio in a "Cool Jazz" groove with hints of 12-bar blues (afterall, jazz is derived from the blues), glorious be-bop syncopation, and Gershwin/Kahn pop tunes. So put it in your CD player, cuddle up with your favorite partner, and prepare yourself for a night of musical lovemakin'...

A walkin' bassline opens the disc with Delbert McClinton's "Cease and Desist". A great tune elevated by the generous virtuosity of Brush's piano and Lopez' guitar. Solos are traded off but never invade and possess the song structure. The instruments enter the song, accentuate the message, and fade from the foreground. Musical economy at it's finest! "Our Love Is Here to Stay" is an ode to love and hope. To the backdrop of Brush's mid-tempo arrangement, some tasty fretwork by Lopez, and syncopated accents by Dault, the listener truly feels the protaganist will prevail and love will win in the end. The next song, "Your Mind Is On Vacation", is from the catalog of the iconoclastic Mose Allison. The lyrical themes convey Allison's sardonic humor. But it's the quirky piano solo and offbeat chordings and bluesy rhythms that elevate the total impact of the song. Brush's piano is red-hot.... absolutely breathtaking! "Walking My Baby Home" recalls an earlier time. A time of innocence. Imagine a couple holding hands, kickin through the autumn leaves, and making big plans on a lovers' stroll. "A Nighingale Sang in Berkeley" is a thematic match to the previous track. But the music is at once more majestic and melancholy. Track six, "Jack", is a Brush original that honors the memory of mentor and friend Jack Bruske. The music's uptempo arrangement complements Brush's warm and personal lyrics. It's a compelling tribute and the highlight of the album. Brush, like Bruske, is a "heavy cat" indeed. "Pennies From Heaven" has a strollin' laid back vibe and a sonic sweetness that underscores the positive "take the good out of the bad" message of the song. Brush sings convincingly with Lopez answering with rich tonal fretwork. "It Had To Be You" is the perfect closer as it captures and refrains the overall message of love and friendship of the album. Lopez' guitar work is notable. His solos are rich and pure as he bends and strings notes with a remarkable musical economy. Less can be more.

So there you are, an elpees worth of "cool jazz". Go ahead, put it in the machine, lay back, and make a little love....that's what it's all about.

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