Perfectly capturing the hopeful spirit of global cooperation that defines these challenging times, Foreign Exchange, the stylistically diverse, coolly exotic dual album by superstar guitarists Marc Antoine and Paul Brown, is more than simply a fresh and compelling addition to their formidable solo discographies—it’s the contemporary urban jazz event of the year. In 2008, the Peak Records labelmates—two of the genre’s most inventive and popular chart topping artists—joined forces on Paul Brown’s Guitar Night, a dynamic 30-date tour of both the East and West Coasts that included stops everywhere from the Berks Jazz Fest to the Catalina Island Jazz Trax Festival. While Antoine and Brown performed some of the shows with fellow guitarists Kenny Rankin and Chris Standring, the focus was on the melodic and grooving yet often intimate merging of the Parisian born, Madrid based Antoine’s cosmopolitan nylon string vibe with the L.A. born and raised Brown’s funky and soulful electric Gibson L-5.
These highly acclaimed live performances led two-time Grammy Award winner Brown, who was in the early stages of producing a follow-up album to his smash 2007 disc White Sand, to ask Antoine to play on one of his new songs.This initial session sparked a dynamic, beautifully complementary creative flow that quickly developed into a fruitful new partnership. In turn, this gave rise to the magical give and take of a true musical Foreign Exchange. Capturing the kind of explosive dual acoustic-electric transcendence that the genre hasn’t seen since George Benson and Earl Klugh’s classic 1987 Collaboration, 11-tracks of Foreign Exchange tap deeply into Antoine’s strength for irresistible melodic anthems and Brown’s love for rocking and funking out. Produced by Brown, co-produced by Antoine and featuring guest performances by some of the genre’s most acclaimed artists (including Jessy J and keyboardists Philippe Saisse and Gregg Karukas), the collection brings out the best in both guitarists as they explore their longtime passions for a wide variety of influences, including pop, jazz, old school R&B, soul-jazz, Brazilian and Latin music.
The Foreign Exchange begins with the seductive blend of both guitars over a laid back, easy swaying groove on the perfectly titled “Feel The Love” before the two amp up for a romp through a thumping funk groove and sweet sensual atmospheres on “Wine Night.” No Antoine project is complete without a nod to the joyful spirit of Rio, and Brown’s crisp electric melody intertwines beautifully with Antoine’s acoustic harmonies on the balmy samba “Flight of the Concords.” Antoine plays bass and drums in addition to his guitar on the happily jangling drive-time vibe of the title track, which features the Brown-Antoine chemistry enhanced by the always sizzling Jerry Hey horns.
Other highlights: The two pay homage to recently departed legendary session drummer Earl Palmer with the distinct old school soul jazz flavors of “Brother Earl,” which harkens back to the feeling of Herbie Hancock’s “Watermelon Man” as it explodes into a bluesy jam session. Spiced with Philippe Saisse’s wistful synth flute, “On The Down Low” artfully blends Antoine’s breezy Brazilian touch with Brown’s Wes Montgomery inspired melody and licks. And forget the Oscar winning 1971 film—Antoine and Brown’s “French Connection” is a lot more optimistic, capturing the high romantic spirits of Antoine’s homeland with equal doses of breeze, soul and simmering horns.
We’ve all heard the term “foreign exchange” as it applies to money changing hands and students studying in other countries. Now it’s time to get your passport ready and groove along as Marc Antoine and Paul Brown show you
the true meaning of the term!