Grammy-winning hit-maker Paul Brown follows his heart “Back” to his roots
Paul Brown has had the Midas touch since the early ‘90s when he began producing some of the biggest contemporary jazz hits and definitive chart-topping albums by the brightest urban-jazz stars in the galaxy, amassing more than 60 Billboard No. 1 singles. In the past twelve years, the guitarist stepped forward as an artist in his own right, consistently cranking out hits of his own. Although his formative recordings established the sound of the smoother side of contemporary jazz for more than two decades, Brown yearned to reconnect with his first musical passion: the blues. On Friday, Woodward Avenue Records issued his eighth solo collection, “One Way Back,” a self-produced ten-track outing on which he followed his heart back to his blues roots.
“There was only one way back to my roots and that was to go down every road and embrace each one of them in order to find my way back to where I began,” said Brown, a two-time Grammy winner who wrote nine new tunes for the disc that was preceded by a reimagined take on Joe Sample’s party starter “Put It Where You Want It,” currently bulleted at No. 8 on the Billboard singles chart.
Bubbling under Brown’s clean and cool electric jazz guitar expressions throughout “One Way Back” are blues-powered keyboard and Hammond B3 organ blasts courtesy of the similarly-named Brother Paul Brown (no relation) and stacks of muscular horn section workouts from saxophonist Greg Vail and trumpeter-horn arranger Lee Thornberg. Having enjoyed a tremendous amount of success producing signature hits for saxophonists Boney James, Kirk Whalum, Euge Groove and Jessy J, Brown invited label mate saxman Darren Rahn to guest on “Sexy Thang.” Guitar fans will rejoice that four cuts – “Piccadilly Circus,” “River Walk,” “Take Flight” and “Rear View Mirror”- spotlight Brown trading stringed barbs with contemporary jazz guitar sensations Chris Standring, Marc Antoine, Peter White and Chuck Loeb respectively. Standring, Antoine and White stand apart using the voice of nylon guitars while Fourplay’s Loeb emotes deftly on jazz guitar. The session boasts a roof-raising gospel-jazz vocal from Don Bryant on the celebratory juke joint original “Well Alright.” Brown himself takes to the mic to croon the intimate “Heaven,” a poignant, heart-on-the-sleeve country-blues album closer spotlighting the artist’s character-rich voice.
“’One Way Back’ is a journey thru my musical and life experiences. This album is a pure sense of expression and everything I’ve got to give,” said Brown before adding, “I’m a much better guitarist, producer and writer now than ever before.”
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Calif., initially Brown was a drummer before picking up the guitar. After learning his way around the recording studio, he became the engineer for R&B legends Diana Ross, Luther Vandross and Aretha Franklin. Moving over into the producer’s seat, Brown almost single-handedly architected the sound of smooth/contemporary jazz since the 1990s before delivering his solo debut in 2004, “Up Front.” From subsequent albums, three of which went Top 10, two singles -2005’s “Winelight” and 2007’s “The Rhythm Method” – were the most-played radio songs of their respective years. Concert performances around the world enabled him to refine and develop his guitar chops as well as cultivate his fan base far beyond the limiting confines of a recording studio. For more information, please visit www.PaulBrownJazz.com.
Brown’s “One Way Back” album contains the following songs:
“Put It Where You Want It”
“Sexy Thang” (featuring Darren Rahn)
“Piccadilly Circus” (featuring Chris Standring)
“River Walk” (featuring Marc Antoine)
“Well Alright” (featuring Don Bryant)
“Take Flight” (featuring Peter White)
“One Way Back”
“Rear View Mirror” (featuring Chuck Loeb)
Source: Woodward Records