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Maurice Brown Soul'd U Out

I recently had the good fortune of being able to review Ernest Dawkins' New Horizons Ensemble DVD, The Messenger, which features the prodigious trumpeter, Maurice Brown. This young musician left such an indelible impression that I immediately resolved to get out and see him perform live if I ever had the chance.

Downbeat Magazine has referred to Brown as "one of the most exciting young trumpeters in jazz-be it New Orleans or New York. His improvisations are fresh, his chops dynamic and he’s writing what could very well become a new generation of hard-bop-meets-new-grooves standards."

Born in Chicago in 1981, Maurice displayed an early affinity for the trumpet and was invited to perform with composer/pianist Ramsey Lewis at the Symphony Center in Chicago while still attending high school. He later received a full music scholarship to Northern Illinois University.

Brown won first place in the National Miles Davis Trumpet Competition in 2001 and continued his studies at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Shortly thereafter, he was invited to headline weekly at Snug Harbor, a premier jazz club where the only other names that held down a coveted weekly spot were Marsalis and Neville.

His self-produced debut album, Hip to Bop, released in 2004, has been steadily gaining international attention. Maurice says, "Hip to Bop reflects my music itself. I try to make sure everything is swinging and you can really move to it-that hip-hop groove feel."

When I heard that one of Maurice's projects, the "hip-hop" collective, Soul'd U Out was scheduled to perform at the Blue Note, I made sure I got tickets as soon as they went on sale. For anyone who is turned off by the "hip-hop" classification, do not be deterred for this group is so not your standard hip-hop band. The ten plus musician (with additional guest musicians) line-up not only bends the genre rules, but totally breaks through all the boundaries when it comes to blending various styles of music. From tight, funky, soul sounds to smooth R&B, to electrifying hard bop stylings, this groovefest had it all and more!

Brown's innovative wah-wah trumpeting is sheer genius and his energetic stage presence (both on the stage and dancing around the room with his audience) is delightfully captivating. He is charming beyond description and his original compositions more than abundantly illustrate his brilliant technical acumen.

The ten song set included originals such as their own anthem, "Soul'd Out" (which has such an infectious groove I'm still finding myself caught up in the pulsing rhythm of the deep, dark piano, hard edge guitar riffs and sinewy saxophone and trumpet blasts repeating in my head), and a couple of compositions from Brown's aforementioned more classically-oriented jazz solo effort, with even an interesting twist on a Jay-Z tune thrown in for good measure.

Surrounded by an amazing bunch of amply talented musicians, including Jeremey Most on Guitar, Joe Blaxx on drums, Chris Rob on keys, vocalist Maya Azucena, not one, but two saxophonists and not one, but two emcees -- and further enhanced by (for this performance) the legendary James Brown bassist, Fred Thomas -- Maurice Brown's musical vision is not only hip, but it's totally fresh and inspiring with enough momentum to carry jazz into a completely new evolutionary direction.

Definitely a worthwhile experience all around, Soul'd U Out put on a great show that's highly recommended. I'm sure we'll be hearing and seeing a lot more of Maurice "Mobetta" Brown's work in various forms and incarnations for many years to come.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Maurice Brown
  • Concert Date: 3/2/2007
  • Subtitle: Late Night Groove Series Live at the Blue Note NYC
  • Venue: The Blue Note
  • City State Country: New York City, NY
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