Alan Brown remains perennially popular about town as does his regular guitarist the virtuosic Dixon Nacey. Last time the trio played at the CJC the gifted groove drummer Josh Sorensen was on traps, but for this gig the replacement was Adam Tobeck. Tobeck proved a sensible replacement, with his ability to hold down a tight propulsive groove while at the same time imparting that something extra. Tobeck had even mastered the regulation groove drummers face, which is indispensable in situations like this. With an organ trio the ability to lock down a groove is essential and the drummer is central to this. Alan Brown did not have his immaculate (but hernia inducing) C3 with him this time, as he had sensibly turned up with a new Hammond SK2. As an approved Hammond artist he now has access to such wonders.
The SK2 came complete with pedals, but as if to acknowledge its illustrious ancestors a vintage Leslie unit sat beside it. While nothing can replace the B3 sound exactly, the SK2 is a big leap forward. Brown is a multi skilled keyboardist and he navigated the differences between this instrument and his usual keys with ease. The only deficit was in the sound mix as those furthest away from Nacey could barely hear him at times. I suspect that this was down to the Leslie unit, which generates such a strong pervasive sound.
Those on the other side of the room clearly heard everything and with the utmost clarity. The looks of pure enjoyment radiated from the row of faces nearest to Nacey. With each chord or bent string they would gasp in delight and pull back grinning, as if reeling from mock blows. That is the legacy of this trio, to engage audiences on an intensely visceral level. That is at the very heart and soul of groove. It is a music that makes you want to smile and dance, while all the while marvelling at the musicians as they shimmer before your eyes.
Brown had composed a number of new tunes as well as bringing us interesting reinterpretations of his best-loved old ones. ‘Shades of Blue’, ‘Charlie’s here’ and ‘Inciteful’ brought the house down. ‘Inciteful’ was the very last number and the band threw themselves into it with extraordinary vigour. Each member of the trio gave everything they had and the audience loved it. The three guys sitting near Dixon Nacey looked as though they had entered an altered state of pure ecstasy.
Video by Ron Drake – ‘Inciteful’ (Brown)
What: The Alan Brown Trio – Alan Brown (keyboard, compositions), Dixon Nacey (guitar), Adam Tobeck (drums). www.alanbrown.co.nz
Where: The CJC (Creative Jazz Club), 1885 Britomart, Auckland, New Zealand 23rd July 2014 www.creativejazzclub.co.nz