Russ Brannon – Sojourn (ENG review)

Self Released – Street Date July 19th 2024
Russ Brannon – Sojourn

This album could also have been called “Notebooks of a Tireless Traveler.” Here, my romantic spirit, which seeks to conceal the melodic jazz qualities approaching smooth jazz, shines through, influenced both by the countries traversed and various musical styles. And this album almost never saw the light of day because it was recorded during an extremely difficult time for Brannon: midway through the process, he was diagnosed with throat cancer. His treatment began quickly, consisting of five or six radiotherapy sessions per week for seven weeks. Brannon remained as committed as possible during this period, and the production of *Sojourn* advanced thanks to producer Michael Wojewoda and his incredible group. Brannon is grateful to be in remission today. The titles of this album may even give you an idea of the countries in which they were composed. For instance, the first track was composed in Spain, titled “Casco Viejo,” the second is dedicated to his mother, the third in France, and so on…

The music is filled with joy, some pieces designed for wide open spaces. Without a doubt, Russ Brannon is a great composer who leaves nothing to chance. Influenced from the beginning by Chet Atkins, The Ventures, and Howard Roberts, and later by Larry Carlton, George Benson, and Robben Ford, Brannon’s music is imbued with the sensibilities of these musical giants without ever sounding artificial or derivative. From his beginnings in the late 1950s as a teenager playing in dance halls to his latest project recorded nearly 65 years later, the journey has been epic. His latest project is a beautiful new recording titled *Sojourn*. This album represents Brannon’s musical autobiography: the culmination of decades of playing and recording, traveling the world, and raising a family.

All of this is evident in the album; we find ourselves here and there, thanks to the sumptuous musical arrangements, in familiar terrains, with impressions of “déjà vu” that are, of course, only impressions due to the aesthetic work of this album. Thus, we experience themes inspired by various musical styles, particularly appreciating the first track of the album, which gives an impression of Spain without, for example, attempting to imitate Flamenco, as it is a profound and inimitable culture. The tour de force in this case by the composer is to rely on suggestion rather than substance. Let us also highlight the wonderful artists present on this album: Russ Brannon – Guitar, Compositions, Lori Cullen – Voice, Chris Mitchell – Tenor Saxophone, Silvio Pupo – Keyboards, James Gatti – Bass, JR Smith – Drums, Tom Roach – Percussion, Jennifer Jones, Celeste Jankowski, Anne Simons, Kristy Money, Alexandra Bates, Hilary Brown – Strings, Michael Wojewoda – Producer. This group has done a fabulous job on this album.

This album also marks Russ Brannon’s 60-year career, which deserves to be included in our series of essentials, both for this album and for his long and beautiful career.

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

PARIS-MOVE, July 7th 2024

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