Personnel: Oscar Brown Jr. (vocals); Don Arone, Everett Barksdale, A. Chernet (guitar); Phil Bodner, Walt Levinsky, Joe Solde (saxophone); Billy Butterfield, Joe Wilder (trumpet); Floyd Morris, Alonzo Levister, Bernie Leighton (piano); George Duvivier, Frank Carroll, Joe Benjamin (bass); Osie Johnson, Panama Francis, George Devens, Bobbie Rosengarden (drums).
Recorded in New York, New York in 1960. Includes liner notes by Joel Dorn, Robert Barron Nemiroff and Will Friedwald.
Digitally remastered by Debra Parkinson (Sony Music Studios, New York, New York).
Oscar Brown, Jr. may not have been the first jazz singer-songwriter (Mose Allison, among others, precedes him), but he certainly helped to usher in the notion of the political/protest singer-songwriter, predating Bob Dylan with this 1960 debut album. Years before Sly Stone or Gil Scott-Heron detailed the travails of black life in white America, Brown was serving up such tunes as "Bid 'Em In," where the narrator is an unrepentant slave auctioneer, and "Work Song," which added a lyric about the results of ghetto-ization to Nat Adderly's famous tune.
Brown's worldview was far from bleak, though. SIN & SOUL is also full of humor-filled tunes that bring to mind the best work of Louis Jordan or Slim Gaillard. "Dat Dere," delivered in a toddler's voice, parodies young children's ceaseless curiosity, while "But I Was Cool" is an uproarious account of a man on the verge of blowing his stack. As well as humor and protest, Brown also wrote some straight-up jazz standards, including the swinging "Straighten Up and Fly Right" and "Afro Blue" (a regal lyric added to the Coltrane tune), both of which would be performed by countless jazz artists over the years.