With Summertime, legendary jazz bassist Ray Brown has done it again, augmenting his new trio (Geoff Keezer replaces Benny Green on piano) with Ulf Wakenius, the Swedish guitarist.
Keezer, hailed by critics as a young lion of the first rank, has played and recorded with some of the best musicians including Roy Hargrove, Art Blakey, Art Farmer and Jim Hall. He actually first recorded with Brown back in 1995 as part of Ray's Some of My Best Friends Are…The Piano Players. Now he's one-third of the Ray Brown Trio. The always-tasteful and swinging Gregory Hutchinson continues in the drum chair.
Wakenius is one of Europe's outstanding jazz musicians. Jazz Journal called him "a new breed of guitarist [combining] a formidable technique with a rare sense of dynamics, a multitude of influences with a precise, driving individualism." His swinging, Wes Montgomery-influenced lines were a highlight of Brown's Seven Steps to Heaven Telarc release.
On top (and at the bottom) of it all is Ray Brown, the preeminent bassist in jazz and one of its most inspiring leaders and teachers. Ray leads his young charges through a mix of standards and blues-based tunes. Ray's trios never play standards "by the book." His engaging, smart arrangements of old chestnuts like "Paper Moon," and "Honeysuckle Rose" make them sound fresh. And when it comes to the blues in a jazz context, this band is state of the art.
Summertime is a wonderful example of jazz teamwork. Each of the players knows what he's doing as an individual in support of the other players; everything serves the greater good of expression and communication gently sired and led by a true master, Ray Brown.