Music We Missed This Year: Maurice Brown
As we near the end of the year, we're catching up on music we missed, and that includes the release from trumpeter Maurice Brown, The Cycle of Love.
It's rarely easy for a musician to put into words what his music is supposed to mean, but Brown tries. His liner notes suggest that each song represents a different moment in life.
"Well, The Cycle of Love for me," he says, "is my interpretation of the different stages we go through on our quest for true happiness, you know?"
First, he says, we embrace a big change, and then life goes well. Then we face a choice, he writes, "between light and dark." Later, we find out we never really had a choice at all. It sounds a little like the musician's own life.
"I was actually living the cycle of love," Brown says, starting with his choice of an instrument as a teenager. "When I was in school, I remember the director told me to pick an instrument, and I went straight to the trumpet, and I made a sound right away. He said, 'You're a natural. That's what you're playing.' I kind of stuck with it ever since."
Brown played trumpet with his uncle's blues group onstage in Chicago, and then jazz music drew him south, to the Gulf Coast.
"It was like a dream, really, in New Orleans," he says. "I was there doing my thing. I had a steady gig every Tuesday at Snug Harbor, one of the biggest clubs in the city."
He was a star, until Hurricane Katrina approached in 2005.
"I grabbed a couple outfits. I grabbed my horn and my laptop, and that was about it," he says. "I had to leave everything else behind... I was just like, you know, this is a sign that it is time to move on."
Brown's next stop was New York City, where he produced, arranged and performed with acts such as The Roots and P. Diddy. He immersed himself in hip-hop and then brought what he learned back to jazz -- including in the song "Time Tick Tock."
"I think that the bassline -- that's hip-hop," he says of the track. "That's what's making you really want to move when you hear that."
In the liner notes, Brown describes "Time Tick Tock" as music by which you weigh your options and consider your next steps in life. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.