"With the Friends series, Brown perpetuates a lifelong dialogue with the life-blood of jazz that began when he was a teenage aspirant practicing to Jimmy Blanton records, and progressed to a string of remarkable real-time encounters with the likes of Louis Armstrong, Johnny Hodges, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Sonny Rollins, Cannonball Adderley, Roy Eldridge and Duke Ellington." —Ted Pankin, Down Beat
Bassist Ray Brown, one of jazz's most brilliant musicians, has seen it all in his 75 years. His new album, Some of My Best Friends Are...Guitarists, unites him with some of today's most prominent jazz axemen. The new album pairs Brown with the likes of John Pizzarelli, Herb Ellis, Russell Malone, Kenny Burrell, Bruce Forman and Ulf Wakenius. Augmenting the encounters is the solid underpinning of the Ray Brown Trio's seasoned rhythm section—pianist Geoff Keezer and drummer Karriem Riggins.
On his fourteenth recording for Telarc, Brown and friends present a mix of standards and a few originals, including Ray's own "Blues for Junior," featuring Herb Ellis. West Coast guitarist Bruce Forman adds his composition, "Blues For Wes," written for jazz legend Wes Montgomery. Telarc recording artist John Pizzarelli is featured on a couple of selections, including the opening track, "Squeeze Me," the Fats Waller classic. "Soulful Spirit," penned by Kenny Burrell, is a heartfelt tribute to the late drummer Billy Higgins.
This latest installment in Brown's Some of My Best Friends Are... series follows 2000's acclaimed Some of My Best Friends Are...Trumpet Players (CD-83495), which included guests Terence Blanchard, John Faddis, Nicholas Payton and Roy Hargrove, among others. Brown launched the series in 1995 with Some of My Best Friends Are...The Piano Players (CD-83373), which featured Keezer, Benny Green, Oscar Peterson and fellow Pittsburgher Ahmad Jamal. He followed with the 1996 release of Some of My Best Friends Are...The Sax Players (CD-83388), featuring Joe Lovano, Joshua Redman and Stanley Turrentine. Two years later, he issued Some of My Best Friends are...Singers (CD-83441), which showcased Kevin Mahogany, Diana Krall and Dee Dee Bridgewater.
Born in Pittsburgh in 1926, Ray Brown has led a distinguished six-decade career that has afforded him a reputation as the world's leading jazz bassist in the bop style and one of the most recorded musicians in history. The world first met Brown through trumpet giant Dizzy Gillespie, who began featuring him and his compositions in combo and then big band settings in 1946. Through his subsequent tenure with Jazz at the Philharmonic and producer Norman Granz, Brown also performed with Roy Eldridge, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Louis Armstrong and Clark Terry.
Ray Brown's circle of friends embraces a wide spectrum of players and styles, and he continues to bring clarity, soul and a solid musical sense to the jazz tradition with each new installment of his ongoing Friends series. On Some of My Best Friends Are...Guitarists, Brown clearly shows why he remains one of the jazz world's most popular artists.