"Ready" CD Review Feb 2013 Issue of UK Drummer Magazine
by Nick Carter, Editor
The latest album from Kelley's trio, with Craig Hlady on guitar and Shinichi Otsu on organ is a real treat for any jazz lover out there. From the opening few bars of the album's opener, "Cool Daddy" which features some exquisite brushwork from Kelley, its clear that this is a seriously cool, swinging album. Kelley's drumming is sublime: driving yet understated, dynamic-yet-powerful, he effortlessly grooves his way through tracks which fuse swing, Latin and blues in healthy doses. Standout tracks include the slow, bluesy feel of "Slow Mo Blues", the more straight-ahead swing of "Impressions" and a highly musical take on Ray Charles' "Hard Times". An excellent album by a superb trio, with one foot firmly in the traditions of the music they purvey.
Patriot Ledger Newspaper 1-5-13
Jay Miller Best Jazz CD's list of 2012
READY" by BRIAN KELLEY TRIO
Braintree drummer Brian Kelley leads a marvelously swinging group that includes guitarist Craig Hlady, and organist Shinichi Otsu. This CD ranks with any of the best national jazz releases and deserves wider notice. Like the best drummers, Kelley knows that subtlety trumps flash every time, and his precise rhythms are a fine foundation for the soloists, who make superb use of the contrast between guitar and organ. Check out the smooth but enticing originals "Cool Daddy," and "Take the Wes Bound Lane" or revel in the way this band interprets John Coltrane's "Impressions," and turns Ray Charles' "Hard Times" into a brightly swinging romp.
Drummer Magazine October 2007 Issue # 48
Ian Croft, Editor
Drummer Kelley with Bassist Kendall Eddy and pianist Ken Cook sonically relate the experiences of Kelley's grandfather who fought on the island of Iwo Jima during WW2. Melancholic notes flood from Cook's piano as Kelley lets loose on low tuned drums, creating visions of darkness. Intensley atmospheric, with Kelley at times dynamically introducing the sounds of warfare via his drums as the record ebbs and flows. Kelley's touch, particulary with his use of brush playing and cymbals is exceptional. ****
The Noise-Rock Around Boston July 2007
With Inspiration from Kelley’s grandfather’s experience in Iwo Jima as a Marine during WWII, Brian Kelley’s trio produces a dark mournful collection of pieces destined to become the soundtrack to the black and white newsreel memories of the last great war. War Stories carves a path that is far away from traditional jazz, but has more genuine emotion and soul than anything contemporary experimental jazz has attempted in quite some time. While there is still very loose structure to the melodic ideas, these pieces seem to paint more of a stark and accurate portrait of actual events than just a freeform ambiguous feeling open to interpretation. Ken Burns should give these guys a call next time the History Channel does a World War II documentary. (Joel Simches)
MODERN DRUMMER Magazine- "On the Move" May 2000
On Brian's Demo, he swings hard on a straight bop tune, drives a horn band through a hot rendition of the soul classic "Knock on Wood" and lays down a nasty groove on "Boogie with you Baby." He does it all on Gretsch drums and K Zildjian Cymbals.
U.K. Drummer Magazine Nov 2006 "CD Review"
This CD is a lesson in dynamic interplay, as drummer Kelley, bassist Kendall Eddy, and pianist Ken Cook cover Miles Davis' "Nardis", with Kelley building the intensity with cymbal flourishes and some cool snare work. "Maplewood" shows the depth of the trio's musicality before they drop into a beautiful rendetion of Coltrane's "Lonnie's Lament". Donald Fagen's "Home at Last" is played out with brushes, showing Kelley's deft touch to the full.
I've been writing this column for the past nine years, so it's difficult to believe that Kelley's is the first press package I've ever gotten from a hard-working, hard-grooving, down and dirty blues and R&B bar drummer. A fixture on the Massachusetts blues circut, Kelley sent in the self-titled debut by his seven-piece band The Part Time Lovers, which he co-produced with bassist Cole Grinnell(who is a monster, by the way). This skin-tight, road tested outfit powers through the album's 13 tracks, which are dominated by popular standards like "Knock on Wood," Shakey Ground"and "Baby, What you want Me to Do?" Kelley is a real champ who offers a lively interpretation of B.B. King's classic "The Thrill is Gone," breaks down to a killer cross-stick and hi-hat pattern on the bridge of "Knock on Wood" and keeps the hi-hat open and sloppy on the medium shuffle "Reconsider Baby." Throughout the CD, Kelley plays with a greasy feel that belies his tender age. The only times when he doesn't sound entirely authentic come on "Bob's Jump" and "Jumpin with Synphony Sid," where the band tackles swinging jump blues. But give the kid some time. He's brimming with talent.
Performer Magazine "A Life on the Way" CD Review
Brian Kelley and Social Lubrication hit the jazz soul spot on A Life on the Way. The five numbers featured are all fairly esoteric, and the trio of drums, piano, and bass keep things sparse, but the groove is solid — these cats are really feeling it in this performance.
Unlike many trios, where the piano would take a clear lead, Social Lubrication shares the melodic and harmonic duties fairly equally between bass and piano. As is the case with a lot of combo jazz, the harmonic structure is more important than any melodic hooks, and Kelley and company take that de-emphasis of melody to the extreme. It is often hard to tell the difference between Ken Cook’s soloing and comping on the piano, and Kendall Eddy’s bass is so exposed in this trio setting that his solo and non-solo lines blur in much the same way. This detracts nothing from either Cook’s or Eddy’s performances, as both demonstrate masterful control of their instruments
Control, in fact, is one of the key contributors to the success of the album’s sparse style. The space between the notes is as important as the notes themselves, letting the music breathe. It is not surprising that a trio of rhythm players led by a drummer place such emphasis on rhythm. The performance slides along in an easy groove led by Kelley’s tasteful drumming. He displays impressive technique, without ever becoming unnecessarily flashy. Eddy reinforces the music’s pulse, and Cook adds splashes of color on top of it all.
A Life on the Way may seem somewhat inaccessible to some listeners, and the lack of clear leading melodies may leave others lost, but it is important to take a step back. This is not music that you hear, so much as music that you feel, and Brian Kelley and Social Lubrication provide plenty to please once you attune your senses correctly. (LSK Records)
NORTHEAST PERFORMER MAG OCT 2004 "Get Enjoyed" CD Review
Ah, the drummer. Usually relegated to the back of the stage, the drummer toils away, providing the backbone to each song while never making it into any live photographs. Sometimes, the drummer steps forth, and this is the case of Brian Kelley & Social Lubrication. Kelley's intuitive playing and slick grooves move this instrumental record along more so than any of the other instruments. Get Enjoyed runs along at perfect jazz pitch, each of the three musicians playing, breathing, and generally moving into and out of each others way like three coordinated cabs weaving through city streets.
There is a lot of motion represented throughout each of these tracks, be it Kelley's bap-bap-bap snare drum on Prince of Darkness or Cook's frenetic comping. The free-form tone of this record could be an effect of many causes. Each of these musicians is clearly in command of their instrument, as evidenced countless times during Get Enjoyed.
Social Lubrication? Indeed, this group functions like the proverbial well oiled machine implied by the name and Get Enjoyed can be enjoyed regardless of prior jazz experience. (LSK Records)