Brenan Brothers – Valley of Silence (ENG review)

Street date April 19th 2024
The Brenan Brothers – Valley of Silence

It would certainly be interesting for you to know the story of these two brothers, a story that is certainly shared by many musicians. Jim and Craig, aged ten, nervously stand in the entrance of the Palms Cafe in Edmonton, on a hot summer night in 1979. Their father has taken them to their first concert featuring the instruments they hope to play when they enter college in the fall. Neither of them has any idea what they are about to experience, but the excitement in the room speaks volumes: they are about to experience something special. “All I remember is the raw power of the trumpet and the incredible speed and energy with which the band played,” recalls Jim. The band was the quintet of legendary trumpeter Woody Shaw: a group that has forever etched itself in the memories of the Brenan brothers. They sought to recreate that musical energy throughout their musical careers.

From the first track of this album, the notes soar thanks to a sonic staging that the two brothers completely master, especially as they are accompanied by excellent musicians to bring their compositions to life. Craig Brenan – Trombone, Jim Brenan – Tenor & Soprano Saxophones, David Lavoie – Trumpet, Sean Craig – Alto & Baritone Saxophones, Earl MacDonald – Piano, Rubim De Toledo- Bass, Dave Laing – Drums. One quickly realizes that each track on this album has been thought out for the stage and probably to allow for a number of sparkling improvisations. Having both played with artists such as Maynard Ferguson, Randy Brecker, Ralph Bowen, Geoff Keezer, Bryan Lynch, Terrell Stafford, Luis Bonilla, Sam Rivers, Bob Brookmeyer, Curtis Fuller, Slide Hampton, and Kenny Wheeler, Craig and Jim Brenan have built a solid reputation as dynamic and accomplished musicians.

What impresses most about this album is the joy that emanates from the complex forms of musical writing. This kind of music, of course, requires many musicians to sound as it should. In the sounds used, it would be impossible to date this music—a form of jazz that could very well draw from the past, if not for the urban and very current vision in the arrangements.

Listening with delight to each track of this CD, I could note the touches of humor, the more romantic or poetic moments, sometimes an atmosphere of 1950s film noir brushes past us, then suddenly, with a magical wave, we find ourselves thrown into another sonic universe. This album particularly enchanted and amused me, due to the very expressive and sensitive writing that emanates from it. “Valley of Silence” is a collection of original arrangements and compositions that have sprouted in the collective consciousness of the brothers over the past decade. The original compositions of Valley of Silence were written in a spirit of abandon: these pieces are both deep and meditative; complex, yet accessible. This album encourages the listener to embark on a journey to a time when jazz was primarily about connecting to the music and telling one’s own story.

I particularly admire artists who put so much passion into their music, who know how to invite the listener to a deep listening while remaining light, once again offering an album that is “essential to the public” with a special mention to the extraordinary trombonist that is Craig Brenan…

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move and ABS magazine
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, April 12th 2024

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