Contemporary Jazz

Rollin' On


There's quite a bit of irony in the fact that saxophonist Wayne Braxton and his twin bother bassist and multi-instrumentalist Nelson Braxton -- collectively known as the Braxton Brothers -- called their second Peak Records collection Rollin' and never released another album again.

It certainly wasn't for lack of cheery melodies and funky grooves, which had been a trademark since the San Francisco bred siblings released their first two albums in the mid- to late-'90s. And it's really a shame we haven't heard from them on disc again because of their four discs, Rollin' is the one that best showcased their dexterity on each instrument as well as the fun yet intricate interplay between lead bass lines and saxophone.

Though bass is his primary instrument, calling Nelson simply an electric bassist is a bit like labeling Marcus Miller as such. Nelson played everything on Rollin' from acoustic guitar and keyboards to electric guitar and piccolo bass-and also did the drum programming. Brother Wayne is more than a saxman as well, handling not only several different horns but also playing keys, singing and doing further drum programming. At the time, Wayne said of this set and the decision to call it Rollin': "There's a lot more playing on it than on previous recordings, the beats are a little more aggressive, it's a little brighter and the tempos are a little faster."

The album also featured more songs co-written by the brothers than ever before, including highlights like the brass fired, hand-clappin' jam "When You Touch Me" and the funked up title track, which features Wayne on wah-wah sax as well as organ.