Maurice Brown brings soul through the trumpet and his own bars..
Stand out Tracks: "Stand Up," "The Mood," "Journey Exotique," "Destination Hope"
Release Date: March 24th, 2017
Maurice Brown is a rare musical talent in a time when mainstream music rules. Thanks to Kendrick Lamar, artists like Maurice Brown are celebrated. Kendrick's album, To Pimp a Butterfly welcomed a whole new appreciation for musicians by incorporating jazz, soul, funk and even spoken word into his music. Kendrick introduced true musical craft into mainstream rap where instruments have been replaced by software in an attempt to roll out as many beats as possible. When someone mentions raw talent and true musical craft, look no further. Amidst his peers, Maurice is known as "Mobetta" referring to the fact that the Grammy award-winning trumpet player is as quality of a musician as it gets; there just isn't someone better. Having worked with artists such as Wyclef Jean, Santana, Santigold, John Legend and more, Maurice now spends his time performing at a residency in New York and focusing on his solo career having released an album earlier this year.
Through following the career of renowned producer, Terrace Martin (who worked on To Pimp a Butterfly) I stumbled upon Maurice Brown. When you discover someone through Terrace Martin that usually means you're no joke. Before I was able to listen to even one track off his latest album, The Mood, my eyes caught one of the three features on the project. It was Talib Kweli on the fourth track titled, "Stand Up." The track is a blend of jazz, soul and hip-hop anchored by Talib's legendary rhymes, but taken to another musical realm by Maurice Brown's trumpet in the forefront leading the song like a conductor. In addition to playing the trumpet which gets you swaying back and forth, Maurice keeps up with Talib with bars of his own. He describes his rapping and trumpet playing as "extensions of his voice," interchanging horn melodies to words. The track's message could not be any more relevant in today's political landscape urging people to "stand up" for what they believe; a topic that Talib Kweli has been preaching throughout his rap career so who better to join arms with. The track "Stand Up" and the combination between rapper and musician or live band is a testament like Ghostface Killah & BadBadNotGood's Sour Soul, that a live band behind a rapper offers a unique sound of authenticity and class. That element alone gives a powerful message like "Stand Up" a "mobetta" platform to enact change. It also just sounds dope as hell! You can check out a live studio performance of "Stand Up" below or on Youtube here.
The rest of Maurice Brown's album, The Mood is an assortment of smooth instrumentals that send you back to the 20s with some James Brown flavour. The title track, "The Mood" introduces Maurice's expert trumpet playing and a verse that begs the question if we will ever see a rap/jazz album from the musician (check out the interview below for the answer). From upbeat tracks like "On My Way Home" and "Shenanigans," to classy soulful cuts like "Intimate Transitions (Jardin Le Son)" and "Journey Exotique," Maurice hypnotizes the listener into a jazz trance. The album closes with "Destination Hope" featuring long-time collaborator Chris Turner and legendary poet J. Ivy (who's won a Grammy off Kanye West's debut album, The College Dropout). The Mood is a compelling album that does much more than scratch the surface in sharing powerful messages that urge the listener to "Stand Up" and stay hopeful; in a way serving as a peaceful protest through art.
Check out our short interview with Maurice Brown as he answers questions about his album and craft below. You can find his stand out single "Stand Up" on the Burn Slow Vibes playlist via Spotify.
An interview with Grammy award-winning musician, Maurice Brown.
by Miguel B.
MiguelB: You proudly describe your album as a jazz album. But there are some tracks where you bring jazz into genres like hip-hop, r&b and soul. Where does your love for jazz come from?
Maurice Brown: My Love for Jazz comes from my parents playing tons of Jazz, Blues & Soul records in the House when I was growing up. I was exposed to a lot of great music.
MiguelB: This is one of those classic interview questions out of curiousity: If you could work with any artist (who you haven’t work with yet) from each of the three genres you bring jazz into (hip-hop, r&b and soul); who would they be?
Maurice Brown: Kendrick Lamar, Frank Ocean & D’ Angelo
MiguelB: What is your thought process for choosing the tracks that receive vocals and which ones remain just instrumentals on your album? As I know a lot of people in the mainstream believe vocals improve songs, what deters you from adding them and keeping them strictly as instrumentals?
Maurice Brown: It really depends on the message and the vibe of the song. Sometimes the melody is so strong that it doesn’t need words. Then again sometime I feel like adding vocals to a song really helps the listener connect with the theme.
MiguelB: “Stand Up” is your stand out single from the album, did you handpick Talib Kweli for the single or how did it come about? Did you consider any other artist for it?
Maurice Brown: I knew right away that I wanted Talib on Stand Up because I see him consistently fighting and standing up for the people. I actual wrote Stand Up with Talib in mind.
MiguelB: How was working with Talib Kweli, did you get the chance to record with him in the studio or did he just send you the vocals.
Maurice Brown: It’s always a pleasure working with Talib! We have worked together in the studio on several projects. For Stand Up, Talib sent the Vocals in cause he was traveling abroad.
MiguelB: On the first track, “The Mood” I think it’s you rapping... Do you see yourself ever recording a whole Jazz/Hip-Hop album with you rapping on it?
Maurice Brown: Yes that’s me rapping on the title track. I definitely see myself doing a whole Hip Hop Jazz Project with me rapping a lot more.
MiguelB: What is the history with you playing the trumpet? I played trumpet for a year when I was younger and man was it tough. Why did you choose to learn and master that instrument out of them all.
Maurice Brown: I always loved the way the trumpet lead the band. And I also could tell that slot of the trumpet players I was checking out had tons of personality and it came it there music.
MiguelB: When performing, it must be hard to go from playing the trumpet to rapping, because I remember playing the trumpet would leave your mouth tingling and somewhat numb. Is there a way you combat that when performing live?
Maurice Brown: It is a challenge to go back and forth between trumpet and rapping. I try to think of them as both an extensional of my voice. For example sometimes I think of a melody on the horn and it translates into words.
MiguelB: Was making music and being an artist the dream when you were growing up or did it naturally happen by taking every opportunity making music gave you?
Maurice Brown: It has been my dream since I was a child to play music. Every since my Mom & Dad took me to see James Brown when I was 8 years old I knew I wanted to make music and perform.
MiguelB: “Destination Hope” is another notable track on your album with singer Chris Turner. Is this a first time collaboration or how did you link up for this track?
Maurice Brown: I’m good friends with Chris Turner. We had recently performed some great shows together and we wanted to capture that magic on record.
MiguelB: Last question, I know you have some residences where you play frequently, but do you have any plans on touring North America in the near future? Would Vancouver, Canada be a stop? I’ve been to the jazz festival and the turn out is always great here.
Maurice Brown: Yes we have been doing spot dates around the country and at the top of next year we are planning a Full North America tour. Canada would be an awesome addition to that run.
Shout out to Maurice Brown for taking the time to answer a few questions. Let's hope we see Maurice Brown at next year's Vancouver International Jazz Festival.