Mahogany L. Browne, Sean Mason – CHROME VALLEY (2024) [Official Digital Download 24bit/96kHz]

Mahogany L. Browne, Sean Mason – CHROME VALLEY (2024)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 38:28 minutes | 765 MB | Genre: Contemporary Jazz, Vocal Jazz, Spoken Word, Poetry
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © The Soapbox Presents

Distinguished writer, playwright, and Lincoln Center’s first poet in residence Mahogany L. Browne has teamed up with jazz pianist, composer and producer Sean Mason to create CHROME VALLEY, a genre traversing album and music essay on the Black experience in America set for release April 19. Inspired by Browne’s most recent critically acclaimed poetry anthology by the same name, CHROME VALLEY marks the debut album for project-based, community centered record label The Soapbox Presents.

On the poetry behind the new single, Browne shares, “If We Praise, is a healing litany. It is meant to call in ghosts and clear out the haunt. All the heavy is lifted in the declaration “We are beautiful”—which is to say, despite all the attempts to destroy, oppress, and commodify our blackness, we remain.”

“I keenly noticed the line “we are beautiful” after discovering that it was tucked right near the end of the poem,” Mason reflects on building the track from Browne’s words. “I felt it was the perfect way to introduce the conclusion of the album, recognizing and celebrating our beauty. So, I decided that it should be the overarching theme of the song and the album. Throughout all our experiences, joys and sorrows, we are still beautiful, and that beauty is worth recognizing and celebrating. THAT’S what “praise” means, if we praise…”

CHROME VALLEY, the first collaboration between the pair, borrows from multiple musical heritages: spoken word, jazz, R&B, gospel, and is rooted in the blues…but not in a predictable way. “This whole album is about avoiding stereotypes. Too often, we as Black people are subjected to the blues offering that we bring to music. So, I wanted to keep the integrity of the blues but remove the stereotype that all we can do is wail and sing our blues,” says Mason.

CHROME VALLEY came to fruition after Browne witnessed Mason playing a detuned piano at The Seashore Farmers’ Lodge, a museum in Charleston, South Carolina that holds Gullah Geechee artifacts. At the time, Browne was putting the finishing touches on her eponymous poetry book. Months later, Browne commissioned Mason to compose music for a live multisensorial performance piece produced by The Soapbox Presents. It was presented as a part of Lincoln Center’s inaugural poetry residency; following the performance, Browne and Mason decided that the healing power of the words and music had to live beyond the confines of the moment. Mason spent the next months furthering the piece and the duo, supported by an ensemble, and took to the studio to record the album in June 2023. Full recording credits can be found below.

When asked to compose his response to Browne’s poems, Mason chose not to take the literal approach of underscoring recitation on every track, “My task was to honor every word Mahogany wrote, ensuring each word was sung. The composition process felt like assembling a musical puzzle, reorganizing words into lyrics and song forms without knowing the final picture. Upon completion, I was filled with gratitude, not only because the puzzle was complete but because the “image” revealed itself, and I stood in awe of its beauty.”

When asked what she hopes people will take away from the album, Mahogany L. Browne’s response is, “I want people to get FREE.” A musical essay where the subject matter is the Black woman in America, CHROME VALLEY is a manifestation of Black culture, not just the pain and trauma, but everything that it means to walk the streets as a Black person in this country. CHROME VALLEY explores what it means to grow knowing the warmth of home and to confront the threat of existing outside of it.

1-01. Mahogany L. Browne – Homer, Louisiana (Prelude) (02:48)
1-02. Mahogany L. Browne – Redbone Dances (04:55)
1-03. Mahogany L. Browne – The Blk(est) Night 1993 (00:57)
1-04. Mahogany L. Browne – Best Time III (05:31)
1-05. Mahogany L. Browne – Kerosene Litany (01:58)
1-06. Mahogany L. Browne – Trivia (04:52)
1-07. Mahogany L. Browne – Working Title (06:30)
1-08. Mahogany L. Browne – A Chorus of Hands (01:38)
1-09. Mahogany L. Browne – If We Praise (We Are Beautiful) (05:26)
1-10. Mahogany L. Browne – Crowned (03:48)

Lyricist and Spoken Word: Mahogany L. Browne
Composer, Record Producer and Piano: Sean Mason
Vocals: Ekep Nkwelle (Tracks 2, 4-6, 9-10)
Vocals: Jillian Grace (Tracks 4-6, 7, 9-10)
Bass: Russell Hall
Drums: Domo Branch
Tenor Saxophone: Stacy Dillard (Tracks 2-3)
Trumpet: Anthony Hervey (Tracks 4-5)
Vibraphone: Joel Ross (Tracks 6, 8)


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