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World Music CD Reviews Jazz

Nate Brown

By Nils Jacobson
Published April 24, 2007

North Country Mile

Minnesota-based musician Nate Brown has played banjo, mandolin, ukulele and lap steel over the last few years. But on this mostly trio jazz record, his exclusive axe is an effected custom Nielsen guitar, from which he coaxes fat tones and watery blurs. Bassist Anthony Cox and drummer Jay Epstein play mostly supporting roles, albeit highly unconventional ones, in service of the leader, who composed eight of these nine pieces. The relatively spare accompaniment is entirely appropriate given Brown’s predilection for open spaces, harmonic stasis, and the sort of relaxed reverberation that has come to define modern Americana in the hands of electric guitarists like Pat Metheny and Bill Frisell. The hard-swinging “Skyline” and the mellow “Another Time Remembered” are the most overtly jazz-oriented pieces; the ringing tones of “While It Lasted” work particularly well with Aaron Barnell’s light hand percussion. Overall, subtlety seems to be Nate Brown’s cardinal virtue.