Guitarist Norman Brown splashed into the soul-jazz scene in 1992 as a recording artist for Mo Jazz and quickly went on to win substantial acclaim, beginning with his award-winning second album, After the Storm. Both Gavin and Soul Train named it Jazz Album of the Year, and After the Storm remained on the charts for over two years. Suddenly critics drew comparisons to other astonishing jazz guitarists from the past such as George Benson and Wes Montgomery, and Brown became the toast of the soul-jazz crowd. Following the remarkable success of After the Storm, Brown continued to wow jazz listeners. His highly awaited follow-up, Better Days Ahead, didn't quite measure up to the brilliance of After the Storm, but it nonetheless won the 1997 American Jazz Award for contemporary guitar and the album's title track became the most-added single in NAC history until that point. Following his flurry of successes at Mo Jazz, Brown moved to Warner Bros. in 1999, where he began focusing on the direction of his still-evolving career.
Born in Kansas City, Brown first became interested in the guitar at age eight, when he grew fond of his brother's acoustic six-string. He initially took much influence from such guitar-based acts as Jimi Hendrix and the Isley Brothers, but once he discovered one of his father's favorite guitarists, Wes Montgomery, everything changed. Rather than play, for instance, material by Earth, Wind & Fire in local bands, Brown began playing contemporary jazz tunes and standards. His increasing interest in jazz guitar led him to Los Angeles in the mid-'80s, where he studied formally at the Musician's Institute in Hollywood. Following his graduation, he taught briefly and signed to Motown's Mo Jazz label, where he recorded his first three albums, including the much-championed After the Storm album. In the late '90s, Brown moved to Warner Bros. and released several albums, including 1999's Celebration, 2002's Grammy Award-winning Just Chillin', and 2004's West Coast Coolin'. Two years later, he returned with Stay with Me on the Peak label. Brown then signed with longtime jazz label Concord and released 2010's Sending My Love. In 2012, Brown paired with saxophonist Gerald Albright for the Concord release 24/7. ~ Jason Birchmeier