Downbeat Magazine

CD Review "Heavy Artillery"

January, 2014 | By Bill Milkowski

✮ ✮ ✮ ✮ Chicagoan Brown and New Yorker Alden demonstrate an easy chemistry on this two-guitar quartet session. With bassist Joe Policastro and drummer Bob Rummage, they forge burning unisons and intricate counterpoint on Clark Terry's blazing "Chuckles," the joyful swinger "Louisiana," the mellow bossa nova "Vocé E Eu," Thad Jones' "Three And One" and a percolating rendition of Don Redman's "No One Else But You." The title track, a lazy blues written by Django Reinhardt, is rendered with requisite bounce and soul by the two superb plectrists. They burn a blue streak on Tal Farlow's “I Brung You Finjans For Your Zarf" then settle into a swing groove, courtesy of Alden's insistent walking bass lines, on a duet rendition of "If Dreams Come True." Shades of Herb Ellis and Barney Kessel.

Jazz Times Magazine

CD Review "Heavy Artillery"

January, 2014 | By Mike Joyce

It’s title notwithstanding, "Heavy Artillery" has far more to do with finesse than firepower, something that's evident from the opening track, a slyly unfolding, effortlessly swinging rendition of "Louisiana."

Lest anyone need further proof that guitarists Howard Alden and Andy Brown - mentor and protégé, respectively - are inspired by their rhythm tandem (bassist Joe Policastro and drummer Bob Rummage) and the relaxed studio setting, the balance of the album offers seven additional selections that elegantly underscore ensemble chemistry and intuitive guitar interplay. There is a pair of guitar duets, too. The last, a woven interpretation of "If Dreams Come True," is as spry as it is delightful, arranged in ways that showcase nimble exchanges and contrapuntal designs.

The colorfully varied tune selection is also a big plus. Alden and Brown never seem at a loss when it comes to refreshing a vintage tune, familiar or not. Both players excel at melodic embellishment, and when shifting from lead to rhythmic roles, as they often do, the transitions are seamless. One after another, pieces composed by Clark Terry ("Chuckles"), Thad Jones ("Three and One"), Antonio Carlos Jobim ("Brigas Nunca Mais"), Don Redman ("No One Else But You"), Django Reinhardt (the album's title track) and, not least, Red Norvo/Tal Farlow ("I Brung You Finjans For Your Zarf") are imaginatively recast and revived by the quartet - so much so, in fact, that the absence of original material is never an issue.

Just Jazz Guitar

CD Review "Heavy Artillery"

November, 2013 | By Ed Benson

This is the first recording for this guitar duo. They have performed both in jazz festivals and clubs since around 2009. Andy is based in Chicago while Howard is in New York. If you enjoy great swinging jazz with a mix of standards, tunes from Brazil and more then you’ll love this. A bit reminiscent of the Barnes/Pizzarelli or Kress/Barnes duos of years ago both players exhibit superb timing and improvisational skills. Howard is on the right channel and Andy the left.

They are supported by Joe Policastro on bass and Bob Rummage on drums-both outstanding in their own right having played with Andy before. There are 10 cuts ranging from Louisiana, I Had The Craziest Dream, No One Else But You and two wonderful Brazilian tunes Brigas Nunca Mas and Voce E EU, the title track Heavy Artillery written by Django(I had never heard this one) and a Tal Farlow/Red Norvo original I Brung You Finjans For Your Zarf at a breakneck tempo(yes that’s the title).

The interplay between both guitarists is evident on all cuts but I especially enjoyed I Had The Craziest Dream and If Dreams Come True-great chording and improvisation and both guitar duos-no bass or drums.

This is an easy to listen to jazz CD whether you are into guitar or not. Great playing by two swingin’ melodic players. Hopefully another CD will be in the works.

Los Angeles Jazz Scene Magazine

CD Review "Heavy Artillery"

October, 2013 | By Scott Yanow

Howard Alden and the Chicago-based Andy Brown are superb guitarists who think along similar ways. Well versed in prebop jazz and familiar with hundreds of standards and obscurities, they celebrate classic jazz not by repeating what has already been done but by reinterpreting songs in their own voices and styles. In other words, they add to the legacy of jazz.

Heavy Artillery has the guitarists playing "I Had The Craziest Dream" and "If Dreams Come True" as a duo and eight other songs in a quartet with bassist Joe Policastro and drummer Bob Rummage. Alden and Brown display complementary but distinctive sounds. In addition to taking consistently inventive solos, they prove to be masterful accompanists for each other. Their interplay on such songs as "Louisiana," "Voce E Eu," Thad Jones' "Three And One" and an uptempo "No One Else But You" (recorded by Louis Armstrong and Earl Hines in 1928) is a constant joy.

Heavy Artillery, available from www.delmark.com, gives one an opportunity to once again enjoy Howard Alden's playing, to discover Andy Brown, and to delight at the musical magic that they create.

Jersey Jazz Magazine

CD Review "Heavy Artillery"

November, 2013 | By Joe Lang

My introduction to duo jazz guitar playing was seeing Bucky Pizzarelli and George Barnes at the St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan. Since then, I have had a particular affection for two guitarists having a musical conversation. Listen to HOWARD ALDEN and ANDY BROWN on Heavy Artillery (Delmark – 5008), and you will hear some of the best duo playing in recent years. When both lived in New York City, they often got together to play. Then Brown moved to Chicago, and their opportunities to interact musically became infrequent, usually when Alden headed to the Windy City to gig with Brown. Whenever the opportunities did arise to perform together, they found that the natural empathy between them came easily to the fore. Here they are joined by Joe Policastro on bass and Bob Rummage on drums for a ten-tune program that kicks off with a stellar take on "Louisiana." The energy throughout is exhilarating. There are two selections where the bass and drums sit out, "I Had the Craziest Dream" and "If Dreams Come True," where attention on their complementary playing is intensified. While Alden and Brown may not get to play together as often as they would prefer, it is now possible for any listener to pop this disc into their player, and experience the remarkable musicianship of these two guitar giants having marvelous musical dialogs.

Ohio Fingerstyle Guitar Club

CD Review "Heavy Artillery"

09/17/2013 | By Palmer Moore

I know that we are a Chet Atkins based finger style guitar club (Ohio Fingerstyle Guitar Club) and that "jazz" wasn't what Chet was known for. However, he did love the genre and included variations of it in many of his recordings. He, also, was inspired by many older and younger jazz guitar players such as George Barnes, Django Reinhardt, Herb Ellis, Les Paul, Lenny Breau, Martin Taylor, George Benson, Larry Carlton, Earl Klugh, etc. And, another obscure finger style jazz player from Cincinnati and good friend of OFGC, the late Kenny Poole.

I once asked Kenny who he had taught his style to along the way and he claimed that even though many had tried, only one young guitarist could be considered his true protégé - Andy Brown. Well, this time Andy teamed up with the internationally renown 7 string jazz guitarist great, Howard Alden, to record an album of pure delight - "Heavy Artillery." Aptly named as these two guys are not just playing "a lot of notes" - they are playing a lot of tasteful notes "together." The essence of the brilliance of this album can be seen on Andy's face in the picture on the CD cover, above - pure admiration of one of a "small, elite group of the very best jazz guitarists in the world" - spoken by Johnny Smith.

Howard's big break in name recognition came about when he was hired by Woody Allen to not only lay down the tracks in the movie "Sweet and Low Down" (about a renegade gypsy jazz guitarist who refused to recognize Django Reinhardt) - he also had to teach Sean Penn how to look like he was actually playing the guitar to those tracks. He did both - and, has some great stories about that process.

Both of these guys can play "a lot of notes" (ala, repetitive rapid improvisational arpeggios that have little, if any, to do with the actual melody of a tune), which they occasionally do throughout this album. However, it is when they are playing together that this CD raises to another level for the avid listener. Howard, playing his impeccably accurate single line and chord riffs - Andy with his "Poole" influenced riffs and bass lines (sometimes you would swear Kenny is actually playing on the CD) - they just seem to not only be playing at a world class level - they sound like they are truly enjoying the experience with each other whether they are complementing, harmonizing, or point-counter-pointing with each other . Two guitarists that were meant to play with each other - and, entertain us.

"Tasteful jazz at it's best." Palmer Moore - Organizer, Ohio Fingerstyle Guitar Club

Midwest Record

CD Review "Heavy Artillery"

August 14 , 2013 | By Chris Spector

The two old New York jazz guitar pals deliver the inside out version of the classic cutting contest and it sounds so good. Just like in the old days, this was recorded in Chicago in an afternoon. These two pals, currently separated by a generation and a thousand miles play together in such succinct sweetness that you almost think Alden didn't get the memo that the Concord that put out his dates quite a while ago isn't the one he's not recording for today. An utterly smoking set for the real jazzbo looking for some real sounds that hit the mark throughout.

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