Thursday, September 9, 2010


Six years after the release of his promising debut CD, Hip to Bop, 29-year-old trumpeter Maurice Brown returns with a solid sophomore outing. A crossover disc in the best sense of the word, The Cycle of Love contains 10 simply stated, deeply soulful original tunes that touch back to ‘70s R&B while taking the pulse of today’s streets. The catchy pop-songs hooks and hip-hop-inflected beats seem to call out for lyrics, either written or freestyle, but left as instrumentals their subtleties are allowed to shine.

Brown’s quintet has a glorious ensemble sound. Drummer Joe Blaxx is always on the move: His complex, off-center rhythms have layers of cymbals and staccato beat dropping reminiscent of drum machines, while Solomon Dorsey’s casually bent bass tones soften the groove. They merge seamlessly with pianist Chris Rob, whose lush cascades and sparkling jumps provide elegance and dynamism to the rich, compelling atmospheres of the slow-jam title track, the hard-edged “Misunderstood” and the mechanized bounce of “Time Tick Tock”

Up front, Brown makes every note count. He’s not given to pyrotechnics, but his meaty tone packs a wallop once he gets heated up, jabbing repeatedly at a single note or phrase, then hopscotching forward. Saxophonist Derek Douget offers a pleasing contrast to Brown’s muscularity. His breathy, weaving lines trend to recede in the uptempo numbers, but sound oh-so-cool at slower tempos.

A disk that grows mmore dear with repeat listens, The Cycle of Love is one of the better releases in the current”back to soul” movement. Fans of recent releases by Nicholas Payton, Roy Hargrove, or Corey Wilkes will find an easy and rewarding connection to this highly appealing music.



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