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So you’re Chris Daly? That don’t impress me much

You probably never imagined that we’d be sharing a Shania Twain cover with you, but you probably never thought drummer extraordinaire, Otis Brown III, would bother covering it for his upcoming Revive/Blue Note solo debut, The Thought of You, due to drop Sept. 23, either.  If Brother Otis’ name doesn’t spark immediate recognition, you’re most likely familiar with some of the cats he’s played with, including Esperanza Spalding and Joe Lovano, as part of the Grammy-nominated Us Five quintet.  The son of musicians himself (his Pops played with James Brown and Al Green, while Ma was principal at Newark’s Arts High School, alma mater to such jazz legends as Sarah Vaughan and Wayne Shorter, as well as a choir director and classically trained pianist), Brown is known as a vocalist’s drummer, no small feat for those in the know, and his work with jazz greats Jeannie Bryson (daughter of Dizzy Gillespie), Ronnell Bey, Melissa Walker,  and Peter Cincotti, proves the point. 

For The Thought…, he’s enlisted Robert Glasper on keys, Keyon Harrold on trumpet, John Ellis on the sax, and Ben Williams strummin’ da bass, man.  With the exception of Williams, these are the same cats Brown played with in college at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York City.  Their familiarity with one another is obvious, and the resulting organic groove is a testament to what years of playing together can produce.  To further round out the jazzy sound on the album, he’s got Bilal, Nikki Ross and Gretchen Parlato, heard here taking Twain’s original and making it something much more Holiday appropriate.  This is Blue Note, man, and with that comes certain expectations.  If your jazz tastes run in either the dentist office or elevator veins, look elsewhere.  Brown lays down a sparse beat before Parlato scats her way into the affair.  Once Glasper starts tinkling the ivories, it’s a sunny, family affair from there, light, yet upbeat, with an almost spiritual bent, not the least bit surprising when one considers that the album is meant to embody two things: faith and family.  Further to the point, “You’re Still the One” is one of two tracks dedicated to Brown’s bride.  And that, brothers and sisters, is how you jazz.


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