Maurice Brown Makes Tuesdays ‘Mobetta’ at Jazz Standard

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Nir Felder (left), Maurice “Mobetta” Brown, Michael League (background) and Skerik at the Jazz Standard in New York City on March 28.

(Photo: Chris Tart)

Maurice “Mobetta” Brown is having a busy start to his spring. The trumpet veteran released The Mood on March 24, and is in the midst of a boundary-pushing residency at New York City’s Jazz Standard. The stint, dubbed “Mobetta Tuesdays” sees the horn player collaborating with a different roster of musicians for a unique theme. This past Tuesday, March 28, was “Electric Ride,” and featured Michael League on bass, Skerik on saxophones, Nir Felder on guitar, Chad Selph on keyboards and Lee Pearson on drums.

The sextet kicked things off with an improv, aptly titled “Electric Ride.” The upbeat number showcased solos from Skerik and Brown, and also featured some emceeing from the trumpeter as Pearson kicked the groove toward hip-hop. Then they took on Miles Davis’ “In A Silent Way,” which allowed for Selph to journey away on the keys. The young Harlem player has been making a name for himself as a sideman to the likes of Brown and Marcus Strickland. He’s also a main player in the progressive NYC outfit Freelance. Throughout this night, he was a vital addition to a capable team of veterans. 

Felder also showcased his chops on “In A Silent Way,” carving out a solo that would prove to be one of the most memorable of the night. The guitarist, who has played with everyone from Esperanza Spalding to John Mayer, puts on dazzling displays of guitar-work around the city in his own bands, but tonight he fell into his sideman role with grace.

Without diving too far into tracks from The Mood during the first set, Brown did allow the band to take on “Moroccan Dancehall,” a worldly new joint that he wrote during a stay in Marrakesh. The bandleader showcased a real affection for the new material, dancing around and leading the group in a hot version of the tune, complete with a solo that put the room into a frenzy.

The second Miles tune of the set, the Wayne Shorter-penned “Prince Of Darkness,” was played after Brown prefaced to the crowd that they were about to slow things way down. At an almost comical pace, the sextet sludged around League’s arrangement of the tune. After passing the tune around for solos, League fuddled with some pedals to produce a truly nasty (in a good way) tone that would set the stage for his wildest solo of the night. It was great to see the Grammy Award winner in an intimate setting, and what he played on “Prince Of Darkness” was certainly a treat.

The night ended with another upbeat funk number, but not before Brown covered Drake’s “Hotline Bling.” With a little participation from the crowd, the trumpeters foray into the pop world was a surprising treat. It also allowed Skerik to reprise the role he plays in Omaha Diner, the supergroup he has with Charlie Hunter, Steve Bernstein, and Bobby Previte that does wild jazz covers of songs that have reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. (“Hotline Bling” peaked at #2, but who’s counting?)

With four Mobetta Tuesdays in April, don’t miss the opportunity to catch Brown take a new roster of musicians down the stairs into the Jazz Standard. They’re producing some wild sounds, charming improv and feel-good tunes that are sure to rival any other early-week jam session. Guests in the coming weeks include Marcus Gilmore, Rashawn Carter, Braxton Cook, Lenny White and more. Tickets available at the Jazz Standard’s website. DB



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