"Before the music begins, Ray Brown, Geoff Keezer and Karriem Riggins blend into the crowd, sipping freshly pressed coffee, chatting about the day's events. The Starbucks store at 23rd and Jacksona corner that was once the heart of the Seattle jazz worldis the scene of this landmark event, the first live recording at Starbucks." from the liner notes
For two nights in September 1999, bassist/composer Ray Brown, with his big tone, instantly identifiable style and killer sense of swing, came to Starbucks with his trio, featuring Geoff Keezer on piano and Karriem Riggins on drums, to pay homage to past history.
The Ray Brown Trio's Live at Starbucks recording presents a compelling program of material, ranging from three Duke Ellington classics ("Mainstem," "Love You Madly" and "Caravan") to bop gems (Tad Dameron's "Our Delight" and Lester Young's "Lester Leaps In") and melancholy ballads (J.J. Johnson's "Lament" and Burt Bacharach/Elvis Costello's "This House Is Empty Now").
The veteran bassist bookends the set with two originals, "Up There" (the title referring to the tempo) and "Starbucks Blues," a long, slow, sexy number. Ray's other original is "Brown Bossa," with Keezer's piano textures at times suggestive of the great Cuban keyboardists.
Born in Pittsburgh in 1926, Ray Brown has led a distinguished six-decade career, establishing himself as the world's leading jazz bassist. He received his first formal musical training on the piano when he was eight years old and later learned to play the bass by ear. He had been in New York less than four hours when he was introduced to Dizzy Gillespie. Brown's impeccable reputation had preceded him and Gillespie hired him on the spot, which led to recordings with the founding fathers of bebop: Bird, Max Roach and Bud Powell. Brown became a regular touring member of Norman Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic group in 1951. Also recognized as a great leader and composer, he has led many bands throughout the years and was the musical anchor of the legendary Oscar Peterson Trio.
Released in September 2000, Some of My Best Friends Are...The Trumpet Players (CD-83495) with Terence Blanchard, Jon Faddis, Roy Hargrove, James Morrison, Nicholas Payton and Clark Terry was the latest installment in Ray Brown's Some of My Best Friends Are... series. He also joined forces with Oscar Peterson and Milt Jackson for 1999's The Very Tall Band (CD-83443), a landmark collaboration recorded live at the Blue Note in November 1998.