Regardless of where Brown gained the ability to adroitly mix jazz, blues and funk, the guitarist was able to impact bands led by folks as influential as Etta James and Bobby 'Blue' Bland, with whom Brown played during the majority of the '70s. Even with these impressive credits, it's the five albums that Brown recorded for Impulse! during the late '60s and early '70s that makes up his legacy.
Between 1967 and 1970, Brown led a variety of ensembles through a mélange of genres that could be summed up by the term soul jazz. Of course, that would be reductive and considering the fact that from song to song, Brown's band might work in any single genre, pigeonholing the music seems useless.
Counting Oliver Nelson as arranger and Bob Thiele as producer, Brown's first date as a session leader in '67 yielded Chicken Fat. With jazzbo Herb Ellis serving to bolster the collected ensemble behind him, Brown moved from the improvisational blues of "Home James" to the jazz and funk of "Greasy Spoon" with little effort.
Getting a song writing credit on the latter track, Ellis opted to play a 12-string guitar on not just "Greasy Spoon," but a few other efforts as well. It was a choice most likely motivated by Ellis' affinity for the instrument more than anything else, but added a serpentine quality to each track the instrument was used for. Endless highlights emerge over the duration of Chicken Fat. But even if one moves forward in time through Brown's discography, a consistent quality remains. Too bad there isn't more to wade through.