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Downright Upright

4.1 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 29, 2009
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

On Downright Upright, acclaimed bassist BRIAN BROMBERG leads an all-star line-up to create a musical tour de force!

Playing both acoustic and piccolo bass, Downright Upright is a complete turnaround from 2006's Wood II. Instead of a traditional trio, this release shines with many new collaborative touches, including those from pianists GEORGE DUKE and JEFF LORBER, saxophonists GARY MEEK, BONEY JAMES, and KIRK WHALUM, drummer VINNIE COLAIUTA, trumpeter RICK BRAUN, and guitarists GANNIN ARNOLD and LEE RITENOUR.

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Long before the coining of "smooth jazz," catchy numbers like Herbie Hancock's "Cantaloupe Island," Joe Zawinul's "Mercy Mercy Mercy," and the Les McCann-Eddie Harris tune "Cold Duck Soup" enticed pop fans to cross over, however casually or tentatively, into jazz. Now, on veteran bassist Brian Bromberg's Downright Upright, those three songs are vehicles for name-brand smooth jazz players including saxophonists Kirk Whalum, Boney James and Gary Meek, keyboardists George Duke and Jeff Lorber, guitarist Lee Ritenour and trumpeter Rick Braun to do a little crossing back of sorts to show off their mainstream chops. Nobody will confuse the facility of their straightahead solos with real depth, however much emotion they pour into them. But it's an agreeable excursion for all concerned, with Bromberg making the most of his opportunities to lay down melodic lines. Even after the cover versions give way to originals in the same vein, the music stays lively. --Lloyd Sachs
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 29, 2009)
  • Original Release Date: September 29, 2009
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Artistry Music
  • ASIN: B000MGVBKK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #117,886 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jan P. Dennis on March 29, 2007
Format: Audio CD
. . . is real.

And, although it is being broken down of late, with discs such as Findings by Benny Reid, Departure by Dan Siegel, With All My Heart by Harvey Mason, and Straight Up and Take It From the Top by Bob James (from the jazz lite side), and Blue Horizon by Vic Juris and Department of Good and Evil (as well as similar discs by Rachael Z) from the jazz side, the divide remains, even though it might be lessening with works such as these.

Several factors tend to separate real jazz and jazz lite. The former generally features genuinely creative improvisation, while the latter seldom does. The former seeks to operate within a tradition stretching back to the beginning of the 20th century even as it expands those frontiers, while the latter seems to be an offshoot of late-20th century (instrumental) pop music. The former appeals to a somewhat elite audience generally steeped in its history and developments, while the latter tends to attract a younger audience looking for romantically inclined, easily accessible instrumental music.

The truth is that a quite different (and, one might even say, mutually alien) aesthetic generally operates in the two genres. How and why the two are coming together in the nascent 21st century, I simple don't know. But they are. And, I think, that's generally a good thing. So what if the diehard jazzheads don't like it: I say, deal with it! So what if the jazz lite freaks inch their way into Real Jazz: Again, deal with it!
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The CD earns only four stars, but I gave them a five because I was blown away by the live performance.

I generally shy away from smooth jazz artists for the same reason I avoid N'Sync and the Cartoon Channel. I'm an adult. But I know what Brian Bromberg is capable of, and he hit the mark again.

Honestly, had I not heard about the line-up he was bringing to the Annapolis concert, I might not have purchased this CD. But we went to the concert, was mesmerized by the band and bought the CD that night. Gary Meeks, Jeff Lorber, Dave Weckl, Randy Brecker and Brian delivered a controlled tour-de-force that was way beyond what you'd expect from a "Smooth Jazz" unit. I guess Brian got tired of hearing some of us denegrate the SJ movement and decided to get back to his roots. He could not have picked finer pieces or band mates to re-establish his "sheet cred". They did justice to every number they played and that's no mean feat when you're talking about Hancock compositions and standards like "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy". Although the personnel on the CD varies somewhat from what you'll see at the live concert, the studio sessions are nonetheless true reproductions of the real thing.

If you like straight-ahead mainstream jazz you won't be disappointed with this CD. If your preference is SJ, you'll absolutely love the bridge these guys are building between the two forms. This effort is the perfect blending of smooth grooves, funky rhythms and an honest tribute to the heart, mind and soul of jazz.

P.S. Allow me to put in a shameless plug for two of my favorite venues. The Ram's Head Tavern in Annapolis, Maryland and The Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia are near perfect venues for this type of concert where the band can be intimately close to the audience, giving the whole affair a very personal feel. If you're anywhere within striking distance to either of these places, I strongly recommend viewing and listening to your favorite acts there.
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Listened to these cuts as MP3s, 30 seconds at a time. It sounded like it would fit the smooth jazz playists and CDs I listen to, but the actual cuts really have absolutely nothing special about them. They just lay there. Besides, I should have known better than to buy a smooth jazz CD with a bass player as the lead artist. They just have to find a way to get all their licks in and frequently ruin cuts because of it. I am completely disappointed in the CD.
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BB does it again. I just got into this CD. he has great players and pays tribute to some classic soul jazz. Cold duck time and Cantaloupe Island are done right. He uses some top side men but CD still has a nice group sound. No flashy all star stuff.
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This mix of Bromberg originals along with his takes on classics like Cold Duck Time, Canteloupe Island and Chameleon make for a refreshing and engaging collection. Some straight up jazz and others fusion-influenced, an enjoyable listen with no duds.
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Very good CD overall. I liked all the tracks. The thing that makes this CD a winner is all the other top name talent that Bromberg has with him on the CD. Fabulous musicians in their own right. I saw the Downright Upright All-Stars in concert playing the songs on this project. It is even better in concert. Definite recommended buy.
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Brian Bromberg is, in my opinion, THE best bassist - ever, and this album is one of his best yet. He is clearly the master of the upright. The combination of groups and music on this album makes it very fresh and shows off the versatility of his talent.
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