Derek Brown | FiftyFifty

by Stamish Malcuss

Derek Brown is creating a new sound, and beyond that, a new image for the future of improvising musicians. From his 30+ million views across social media to his interviews on international television and NPR’s Weekend Edition, Billboard-charting saxophonist/innovator Brown and his one-of-a-kind solo BEATBoX SAX project has been exploding across the world music scene. Brown’s latest project builds upon and expands his innovative sound. The new album is entitled, FiftyFifty. Along with the release of the album, Brown will be performing at least one gig in each of the 50 states in nine months (Aug. ’18-May ’19). Traveling from state to state in an RV with his wife Rachel, they will be regularly vlogging and posting about music and life on the road. Crossing genres from jazz to classical to funk, without looping or electronic effects, saxophone innovator Derek Brown’s unique playing style must be seen to be believed!

On the track “The Jackalope” Jeff Coffin joins Brown to create a sound that is percussive and ear expanding as to what two saxophones can do. Brown on the baritone saxophone and Coffin on the tenor, the tracks starts with a wall of trills from the two saxophonists. Brown lays down a funky bass line that has both movement, harmonic stability and movement, along with interesting sounds of percussion produced by various techniques on the mouthpiece and reed.  Coffin joins in, matching and interacting with Brown’s feel and sounds. Brown adds foot stomping for even more percussive direction and the two are off, interacting and riffing of each other in a magical musical dance that is amazing. The amount of saxophone technique and musicality displayed in this track is unbelievable. Even though the two are improvising, they create a clear form and overall musical track that offers meaningful peaks and valleys.

“Funny How” finds Brown alone with his tenor saxophone, but don’t worry, the sound he creates sounds like there are three of him. By stomping his foot for a bass drum effect and getting a cymbol like effect with his hands striking the keys, Brown creates the illusion of a drum set. Now, add the multi-dimensional lines that keep a bass line and melody in clear focus and you have a quartet of sounds, all produced by one talented individual that is Brown. As if this is not enough, he also creates popping sounds with his mouth on the mouthpiece and then he sings! The musical juggler manages to keep all these parts moving and in focus as he juggles the various parts to create a musical master piece. Truly amazing and creative.  Honestly, the epitome of creativity.

Breathtaking and groundbreaking Brown has created a multi-layered effect of sound, textures and rhythms that all add up to amazement.  Your ears won’t believe what your eyes just showed you.  This is a lot of talent wrapped into one human being, he clearly has spent countless hours creating a relationship of depth with his music and instrument, and the result is astounding.

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