Ari Brown Live at the Green Mill

This live set from seasoned saxophonist Ari Brown is exactly the kind of heartfelt, gutsy jazz that can penetrate even a jaded listener’s blasé attitude. These guys genuinely mean what they’re playing. And their organic, blues-rooted earthiness exudes confident, gritty virility, the hallmark of their Chicago hometown. Brown is a muscular player, as witnessed by his powerhouse soprano solo on "Shorter’s Vibes,” which sounds straight out of Coltrane’s Live at Birdland, but without any of the mechanical imitativeness of most ’Trane-based players. And he can be emotionally lyrical as well, like on his tribute to a fallen comrade, "One for Skip.” Brown is in good company, with brother Kirk, a solid presence throughout, and the dignified Buddha solidity of bassist Yosef Ben Israel. But the outstanding contributions, besides those of the leader, come from the stellar performance of drummer Avreeayl Ra, who steals the show not with scenery-chewing antics but with vitally urgent, well-crafted playing that most drummers only wish they could pull off. This DVD provides the kind of in-club experience that only a real master like Ari Brown can deliver. Recommended. (Delmark)