November 1, 2002

Test Spin: BWB

Print More

Rick Braun, Kirk Whalum, and Norman Brown (BWB) are probably, at this moment, causing quite a stir at the local Cool-Jazz radio station. But what would you expect from an album that’s titled something as maddeningly trite as Groovin’? In short, these arrangements sound like hold-music for a computer company who’s really trying make you forget your hard drive just crashed.

Still, one can’t overlook an obvious amount of instrumental talent from these musicians. In songs like “Ruby Baby,” the horns are clean, and the guitar lets loose the appropriate balance of sweetness and twang. The songs on Groovin’ have an easy groove, and are well executed.

On the other hand, there’s no semblance of innovation or exploration to be found on this album. The production sounds a bit too slick and doesn’t seem to be any jazz ethos. Just about every song has a moderate tempo, standard (to the point of being fairly predictable) horn lines and uninspired drumming.

The highlight of the album is definitely the last song, “Up for the Down Stroke,” for two reasons. First of all, it’s a George Clinton song, and as such, has just enough funk to stand out nicely from the rest of the album. Secondly, the album ends when the song does … do I need to say more?

Archived article by Thea Brown