There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
D.C.’s Go-Go Godfather Chuck Brown crooning “Tenderly” and “Autumn Leaves” may sound like an April Fool’s prank. But on Timeless, his just-released Liaison CD, the singer-guitarist departs from the funky, hard-driving dance music that brought him international fame to interpret a dozen classic standards. “I’ve earned my living playing R&B and rock ‘n’ roll,” Brown observes, “but never considered myself a jazz or blues performer. When Eva Cassidy agreed to make an album with me, she gave me the inspiration and confidence to try something I used to lie in my bed dreaming about but was always afraid to do.” That 1992 duo project, The Other Side, revealed that Brown’s fear was unfounded, and Timeless, which he dedicates to Cassidy’s memory, establishes him as a solo, blues-inflected balladeer in the tradition of Nat Cole, Ray Charles, and Joe Williams. Backed by a top-notch ensemble of locally based jazz instrumentalists, including bassist Keter Betts, saxophonist Ron Holloway, and keyboard player Lenny Williams, Brown breathes fresh life into a collection of chestnuts (“I Only Have Eyes For You,” “A Foggy Day,” “Hey There”), his warm, appealingly worn baritone transforming familiar songs into soulful personal statements. Brown and his newly formed Second Chapter band will perform selections from Timeless at 8 & 10 p.m. Tuesday, April 14, at Blues Alley, 1073 Rear Wisconsin Ave. NW. $16. (202) 337-4141. (Joel E. Siegel)