Like all musical genres, Jazz has many subgenres. And those subgenres have subgenres. From Bebop to Fusion, Swing to Bossa Nova, there’s a subgenre of Jazz for every mood and every phase of your life. One subgenre that has become very popular since the late ‘70s and early ‘80s is Smooth Jazz. Often considered ‘mellow’, Smooth Jazz is generally downtempo, filled with mood, atmosphere, and emotion. Artists who are most associated with the Smooth Jazz genre include Boney James, Dave Koz, Brian Culbertson, Rick Braun, and many others. One of the most prominent and respected guitarists in Smooth Jazz is Norman Brown…
Born in 1970 in Shreveport, Louisiana, Brown began playing his brother’s acoustic guitar at the age of eight. Initially inspired by Rock and Soul artists, he switched his interests to Jazz after hearing legendary guitarist Wes Montgomery. Discovered by Jazz drummer Norman Conners, Brown signed with Motown Records and released his debut album, JUST BETWEEN US, in 1992. His 1994 album AFTER THE STORM won the Jazz Album of the Year Award at the Soul Train Music Awards. In the midst of his solo career, Brown was the co-founder of BWB a Smooth Jazz side project/super trio in 2002 with Kirk Whalum (saxophone) and Rick Braun (trumpet). By 2007, Brown had a #1 Smooth Jazz radio hit with “Let’s Take A Ride” (from the album STAY WITH ME). Brown has continued to release critically and commercially successful albums including SENDING MY LOVE (2010), the Grammy-nominated 24/7 (with Gerald Albright/2012), LET IT GO (2017), and HIGHEST ACT OF LOVE (2019).
Norman Brown returns in 2020 with the Shanachie Records release HEART TO HEART. Featuring musical assistance from Peter White and Jeff Lorber, HEART TO HEART is an album that showcases the many facets of Brown’s talents. A tasteful player, Brown only plays notes that need to be played. And he makes each note count. Even without words, his playing is emotional. In many ways, his playing says more than any review or interview can ever say. To be completely predictable (and proud of it), this is music from the heart. From the George Benson (and Wes Montgomery?) tribute “Heading Wes” to the funky, upbeat “Unconditional”, HEART TO HEART is a musical gift from Norman Brown to you. And it is one gift that you – we – should all be grateful for.
HEART TO HEART