Brown Brothers 2021 : the (belated) year in review…

Here I am, writing this missive on January 17th, 2022. A day that honors the great Martin Luther King – a man of substance, intelligence and true greatness.

In no uncertain terms, 2021 was a bit of a dud for the boys in Brown. We didn’t record or release any new music – and if that is ultimately what a label is judged on, it was a pop gun of a year.

But, perhaps we should look on the bright side. 2021 saw the Brownies muster the strength (and financial commitment) to mix a live recording by Cyrus Chestnut and Warren Wolf. The recording was made in January of 2018, in Baltimore, MD @ a club called An Die Muzik.

In August, Mr. Ben Kane mixed the record @ his Electric Garden studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn under the watchful eye of Steven B. Mandel. The forthcoming album, tentatively titled “Charmed” is currently in post-production – awaiting both an agreement with the principal Artists, and the wherewithal to master and press the record up to Brown Brothers’ elite standards (we will also be releasing the music digitally).

More to come on this landmark recording – watch this space…

Not much more to say about 2021 – except it was a year full of the typical heartaches, losses, a spare victory or two, and some beautiful, beautiful moments.

We appreciate the support of you – our loyal patrons, and look forward to an excitement filled 2022.

With Love,

The Browns

5-4 = Unity

5-4 = Unity : James Carter, Cyrus Chestnut, Ali Jackson and Reginald “Swingdoom” Veal take on Pavement, Dave Brubeck, and the world…

Way back in another lifetime, one of toil and blood… So there they were, young and bold – sitting behind the console @ Electric Lady Studio B – less cares, responsibilities and pains; watching 4 Men create something beautiful, inspired by something beautiful – making it their own, making it the world’s to hear.

This is 5-4 = Unity, performed by James Carter, Cyrus Chestnut, Ali Jackson and Reginald “Swingdoom” Veal, a track nominally written by Stephen Malkmus, but really a riff on Dave Brubeck’s seductive and legendary smash-hit “Take Five” (from 1959’s Time Out).

Pavement’s 5-4 was released in 1994 on the profound “Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain” – an album cut that exposed the band’s creativity and artful-sloppiness. Fast forwarding a decade, the then Principals of BBR, LLC. were brainstorming an album of Pavement covers – recorded by elite Jazzers of the day – what you are about to hear was part of the fruitful bounty of those dreams.

This is 5-4 = Unity, a track recorded by @StevenMandel during the illustrious Gold Sounds sessions @ the mighty, mighty Electric Lady Studios. This one did not make the release of that scorching record, but was played live by the band several times during a busy touring schedule in support of the album.

So now, sit back, relax and unwind – have a listen to a freaked out version of 5-4 = Unity by the Gold Sounds Quartet….

Get yer Bounce on with Bikini Bottom Bounce…

Bikini Bottom Bounce, an original composition by Ali Jackson,

Recorded @ Electric Lady Studios sometime back in 2005 or so – this is Ali Jackson on drums, James Carter on saxophones, Cyrus Chestnut on keyboards, and Reginald “Swingdoom” Veal on bass.

Never before released – here’s a special treat for y”all. Sit back, relax and unwind as this one envelops you.

with love,

Blotto West and the Brown Brothers Family, somewhere in America March 2020

Native Son – a Jeremy Pelt Composition exclusively on Brown Brothers Recordings

yes, that LP

Eons ago, on a planet called Man-Hattan – when the sun was hot as Scotch bonnets, a band was formed to realize a project called The CO-OP. A veritable dream-team was assembled : D. Hodge (basses and perhaps keys), W. Gordon (trombone), J. Pelt (trumpet), W. Wolf (mallet percussi

One of the songs recorded during those sessions (held in the big room @ the majestic but now defunct Clinton Recording Studios in Hells Kitchen, Man-Hattan) is titled “Native Son” – a madcap electric circus penned by the estimable Mr. Pelt – with bombastic contributions by Messieurs Hodge, Gordon, Scott and Wolf.

Lo and behold, in sequencing the record – as much as the browns were enamored with this song, it was left on the cutting room floor. …but no longer friends – now you have it – right here to stream unlimited on yer device of choice.

Please sit back, relax and unwind. And turn it up LOUD.

all is full of love,

Blotto West, somewhere over Man-Hattan Fall’19

Open Up the Window and Let Me Breathe…

We think about things here @ Brown Bros. Industries – a lot of things. Like why are some of the great Artists of our time (seemingly) destined to be heard by so few ? Those that have trained and accomplished like the most elite athletes who are lionized by billions – toil in relative anonymity creating @ the highest level.

Well we couldn’t feel more strongly that this situation needs to be rectified with all our hearts and souls. That is why we think, think some more, and then create a plan that endeavors to succeed.

We appreciate the long-time loyalty that many of you have shown us and take yer trust and engagement very seriously.

We heartily look forward to blowin’ yer mind.

Blotto West, Chief Compliance Officer and Brown Brother #1

We’re as Hard, as Hard as nails …

Go back to yer Gold Sounds…

I think it happened around ’91, somewhere round Mexico, or was it New Mexico? Could have been both. The earth was undulating w fire back then, and everything was golden up ahead, but only if you looked ahead.

I can still remember those hills – brown and desolate – even by the highway – they were beautiful too.

Yes my friends, we are the Brown Brothers – but the world evolves, and with that evolution a change in the order of things occurs. Like a Phoenix, watch us rise again…

Brown Bros. Year in Review 2018

2018 was a transitional year for the Brown Bros. It started eventfully with the brothers booking 2 nites @ An Die Musik Baltimore for a label mashup featuring local heroes and BBR alums’ Cyrus Chestnut and Warren Wolf.

These 4 sets over 2 nites: 1/12 – 1/13 were standing room only. They were deeply emotional sets, with the duo performing both originals from their own catalogs and music from luminaries such as Duke Ellington, Claude Debussy, and Pavement.

The brothers, upon being blown away during nite 1 called an audible, and found a talented Maryland based recording engineer named Doug Benson, to come record the 2nd nite’s performance.

Label confidant David “Sir Davey Jones” Slitzky trained down to Bawlmore to supervise the recording. A commitment by a talented young man that will not be forgotten.

Benson sent the brothers the following note along with the digital files a few weeks later “The raw audio is very good, clean, quiet and transparent.  I think you have a lot to work with.”

To date, the brothers have not aligned on releasing a live document of the recording, but discussions are ongoing, and there is reason for optimism that this project will see the light of day.

Chestnut and Wolf are all-time talents, and having them on the BBR roster is not taken lightly. Bros are actively working on a 2019 follow up.

After the good time experience in Baltimore, there was a looming crisis on the horizon, the titanically named “Jazz-Ageddon”. The Browns, with assist from label Head of Sound, Steven “Val” Mandel, had booked what was intended to be 3 nites of celebration, fusing artists from the Brown Bros. and sister label JMI Recordings.

The excitement was quickly battered by reality tho as infighting ensued, leaving all participants bloodied and worse for wear.  Musically, the 6 sets over 3 nites 1/22 – 1/24 went better than could ever have been expected – live magic really.  Lineups were packed with champions of today, and were led by Musical Directors Ray Angry and Warren Wolf.  Mandel brought his unique talents to bear during the engagement by booking comics that opened each set.

One of the Brown Bros. principals wrote the following ecstatic analysis of the shows:  “Some initial thoughts…Monday energy was due in part to novelty but still very exciting. Music was sloppy but involving like a jam band composed of musicians greater than any jam band. By second set group dynamics tightened up and took the entertainment value from novelty to serious all star set up. Highlights were James Carter first set and Wycliffe second set for their best of combo showmanship, technical ability and playing to my taste. Tuesday was the apogee. One of my favorite nights of live music of last few years. First set was chock full of surprises like Tia Fuller finding her footing, Ray finding his sea legs as leader and Marcus Gilmore sparking fires all over the place. Myron and Sean emerging as powerful horn harmonies and judicious soloing. Warren as always leaving the cumulative impression that he is a supreme leader and accompaniest with bursts of soul, be bop, swing and r and b. Willie finding his way in and Ali playing like he had something to prove and proving it.
Second set Tuesday was the top of the top. Most raucous crowd despite not being biggest. Bilal and Keyon almost stole whole show and Jmi originals getting people to move. Willie quietly asserts himself and Ben starts taking some of the best bass solos I’ve ever seen live.
Last night was the true aficionados’ show. Ray fully assumed command ironically by ceding announcing duties to Warren. Ray originals evolve into strongest and most consistent material graded on their technical complexity and challenge to band and audience. Energy seemed low first set but on reflection it was just crowd dealing with the challenges of Ray’s composition and a slightly more melancholy bilal. New vocal elements and daru spiced things up. Second set last night was the elegy…”

As of January 25, 2018, things have slowed some – there’s the talk related to the Live Cyrus and Warren record, a nascent Joe Pernice project, and a Gold Sounds vinyl reissue + re-think (the record was released in 2005 on CD only) being driven by Mandel.

Whatever happens, it’s never dull in the hallowed hallways of Brown Brothers Recordings. We genuinely wish you the best of everything in all of your endeavors, and thank you for your continued support.

Blotto West, December 2018, Somewhere in NYC

Got live if you want it

Live albums are always a dicey proposition. The allure of a concert is that the experience can’t be reproduced. Otherwise why be inconvenienced by travel and interaction with a host of unpleasantness?  However, there are a number of live albums which so successfully capture musicians in rare moments of supreme creativity that they are indispensable.  We’re working on one such album. As always if it’s not as perfect as we can make it we won’t release it. Stay tuned to this space for updates.

Let me up

To quote the late, great Tom Petty -or was it Bob Dylan-the saturation in modern society can “jam” you. Money: jam.  Family : jam.  Friends: jam. Internet: jam. When it all gets too much, one thing which works for us is a good spin of (self promotion alert) The Co-Op. We created this album to be a lasting artistic beacon.  A way to force us to immerse ourselves in something other that clicks of a finger or disappointment at inevitable human failures, our own and others’.  Although it’s widely available online-which we promise has not earned us a penny-we prefer you do what the great DJ Bob McWilliams does: savor and spin. Repeat. Let us know how it goes for you. We’re sincerely interested.

Try to make the magic last

By now anyone paying even the remotest attention here and elsewhere in the Brown Brothers universe knows our predilection for physical over virtual media.  Here’s another entry in that swimming-upstream effort.  Back in 2008 Elvis Costello released a solid-if-unspectacular album called Momofuku.  One gorgeous highlight is the song Flutter and Wow, one of his most earnest love songs. The album came with a dowload card because the appearance of offering convenience and being technologically current seems to matter to some folks. The card was only valid for part of 2008.

We’re still listening, enjoying and learning from the beautiful lp.  How many people can say the same about digital copies of the record?