Rob Brown – Oceanic


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A solo alto sax record from Rob Brown is very, very welcome, and a long time coming. If you know his playing, it is everything and more than you’d expect, minus the little heads and outros he uses to organize his compositions. Here we get only the inside game. Each of these pieces is a pattern study, very classical in its way, but also very out.

Rob Brown’s tone is immediately identifiable—dry and insistent, commanding the tone center, but ready to push his alto to its edges. The playing exhibits tremendous focus and concentration. Brown studies the logical puzzles of intervals. He moves at the speed of logic, and this includes half-tones, quarter tones and split tones as part of his sound palette. All of his lines sing songs, but his songs are not the blues. They feel like the play between sense-making and the disorder that fuels the quest for ordering, giving voice and respect to that disorder, too.

The record title Oceanic, and the track titles are all nautical, though I don’t get a very “wet” sense to any of what he plays. If there’s a link to the sea in the sounds Brown makes here, it’s like handling a delicate, intricate sea shell: dry as bone, though a creature of the sea.

The final tune, Gathering Breeze, has a somewhat different air: just a hint of swing, a gesture toward sentimentality. Just a hint, though.

By Gregg Miller

Track Listing:
1. Oversea Undersea, Part 1 - 6:43   2. Oversea Undersea, Part 2 - 4:10   3. Oversea Undersea, Part 3 - 6:16   4. Oversea Undersea, Part 4 - 7:31   5. Marine Life Encounter  - 10:34   6. Adrift - 6:48   7. Tacking And Jibing - 9:04   8. Gathering Breeze - 6:35

Personnel :
Rob Brown (Alto Saxophon)