Tuesday 18 October 2016

Brownman Electryc Trio +1 Does a Halloween Special --- Michael Jackson's Thriller in Downtown Kitchener

KITCHENER Ontario ---- The BROWNMAN ELECTRYC TRIO brings a loud, raucous and danceable celebration of Halloween to downtown Kitchener when it covers the iconic Michael Jackson album Thriller.

Brown's Trio, plus the keyboardist Nick Maclean, plays the TWH Social at 2 King St. West in downtown Kitchener, Saturday, Oct. 29th.  This fabulous venue is in the basement of the historic Walper Hotel where the jazz legend Lois Armstrong stayed in the 1950s.  Back in the day, Pops unpacked his trumpet, walked across the Mezzanine Level, stepped on to the  balcony overlooking King Street and played his horn.

Some people look forward to Christmas.  Others their birthday.  Brown loves Halloween because his award-winning band does its inimitable thing with Thriller.

"It is a fantastic show and we love to do it because those tunes are genius, they are brilliant pop tunes," Brown says during a recent interview with New City Notes.

"Some of the bass line are unbelievable, and they are really ripe for interpretation and leaping off, and using them as source material for something else," Brown says.

The BROWNMAN ELECTRYC TRIO just won the 2016 Toronto Independent Music Award for Jazz Group of the Year.  That makes two years in a row for that honour.  Not surprising really for the musician hailed by the Village Voice in New York City has Canada's best modern trumpet player.  Brown was in-and-out of New York City for 14 years studying under his teacher and mentor, the Grammy Award  winning Randy Brecker.

When Brown sets up on stage he has more than a dozen effects pedals at his feet.  This is modern, electric jazz at its very best.  By covering Thriller, he is following a long tradition among jazz greats who trawl the wide, rivers of popular music for jazz material.

"It's huge fun," Brown says of the show.  "As an improviser you get to be authentic to your craft, but you are still paying homage to your tune.  And those tunes are worth playing, really playing.  We don't screw around too much with the tune.  You will recognize the tune, you will be like: 'I know what that is, that's Beat It, that's Thriller.'"

Brown transcribed and arranged the music years ago.  For five years he only performed this show in Toronto, where he lives.  But last year, for the first time, he took it on the road to the KW Jazz Room in Waterloo, where the house was packed with dancing fans.  So this year, The BROWNMAN ELECTRYC TRIO +1 does the Thriller show in Toronto, Guelph, Kitchener and Hamilton.

The music starts at 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29th in the TWH Social.   Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door.  The TWH Social is a fabulous venue in the basement of the historic Walper Hotel.  Come early and have dinner, the executive chef here, Jeff Ward, is among the best chefs in the country.  He jumped at the chance to have The BROWNMAN ELECTRYC TRIO do Thriller in his restaurant-club. Before taking culinary reins at the TWH Social, Jeff was a chef at Canoe in Toronto, opened several of Oliver&Bonacini restaurants around Ontario and Marisol in downtown Kitchener.

Brown's musical background makes him ideally suited for arranging and performing Michael Jackson's music.  Brown was the featured soloist for GURU, and toured with Paul Simon.  He funnels the sounds of funk, hip-hop and pop through his prism of electric jazz.  His band continues to win honours and accolades.  He is a performer, arranger, composer, recording artist, producer and owner of a non-profit recording label that plows all profits right  back to the artists.  The Cat is Miles Davis cool.  My words, not his. You can see and hear for yourself at the Halloween show in the TWH Social.

"We play the whole record," Brown says of the Thriller Show.  "We play the entire record from top to bottom, and turn it into a jazz-funk party."

Brown leads six different bands, a living testament to his creative chops.  The BROWNMAN ELECTRYC TRIO is all about electric jazz.  CRUZAO is a five piece, chordless jazz-funk outfit.  CRUZAO GROUP MONSTRUOSO is a 15 piece Latin jazz urban orchestra.  MARRON MATIZADO is an 11 piece salsa unit.  Brownman & GRUVASYLUM is jazz hip-hop. BROWNMAN ACOUSTIC QUARTET is classic jazz with piano, bass, drums and trumpet.
Brown and his record label, Browntasauras Records are no stranger to Kitchener music fans.  He played the Boathouse recently with Nick Maclean's group Snaggle.   That was a CD release party for Snaggle's latest CD, The Long Slog.  Brown was the producer of that recording, and can be heard on two tracks adding the unmistakable sounds of his trumpet playing.

He also played on At Street Level, the first CD by a sensational tenor sax player and composer Ryan Cassidy.  Kitchener born and raised, this jazz-soul-funk-R&B-hip-hop fusion artist brought Brown into the project because of his reputation for blending genres through his pedals and horn. If we are lucky, Ryan will show up at the TWH Social, and Brown will invite him to play for a while during the Thriller Show.

"People are blown away by the thing because it's Thriller, it's Michael Jackson's music, it's Halloween, it's a dance party and it's like authentic jazz improvisation all folded into the same thing," Brown says.  "Unless you don't like any of those things, it's got something for everybody."

Wednesday 5 October 2016

Snaggle plays the Boathouse in Kitchener Friday night

The sounds of Snarky Puppy mixed with late-career Miles Davis will be heard Friday night at the Boathouse when the Toronto-based jazz-fusion sensation Snaggle takes to the stage.

“We try and create this genre blurring sound taking influences from funk, from R&B, from metal, there is a little bit of classical music in there, and interpret it within a jazz context, in the jazz background and training that all the members have,” bandleader Nick MacLean says in an interview.

The Saturday show is also a CD launch party for the band’s second recording, “The Long Slog,” which was released earlier this month on the Browntasaurus Records.  You can check it out at www.snagglemusic.com.

“We’ve often been described as Canada’s answer to Snarky Puppy, and sometimes we use the analogy of Electric Era Miles meets Rage Against the Machine,” Maclean says.

This music is a joyous, raucous and danceable.  It is not from the sit-in-your-chair-and-listen school of jazz. Snaggle was formed in MacLean’s’ final year in the highly-regarded jazz program at Humber College. 

The Friday night show at The Boathouse starts at 9 p.m. and runs to midnight.  The cover is $10, or $15 with a CD. 

With the release of The Long Slog just three years after graduating,  MacLean has led the band into new, sonic territory.  With straight-ahead roots, the tracks soon branch and blossom into a 21st Century sound like no other.

“It is absolutely fantastic,” MacLean says.

The Long Slog was produced by Brownman Ali, and recorded on his label in Toronto.  Brownman plays on two tracks.  He will be joining Snaggle for the Friday day night show at the Boathouse.

Opening for Snaggle is Ryan Cassidy, a tenor sax player, composer and recording artist based in Kitchener who released his first CD At Street Level a few months ago.  Brownman also plays on that CD, and will play with Cassidy at the Boathouse show as well.

“For the KW show a local, fantastic saxophone player named Ryan Cassidy and his band are going to be opening for us,” MacLean says.

“He is coming from a similar kind of place jazz influenced by rock, R&B, soul,” MacLean says.  “So that is going to be a lot of fun.”

Brownman was described by the Village Voice as the best modern jazz trumpet player in Canada.  He has played The Jazz Room and the Boathouse before.  With a large array of pedals at his feet, Brownman plays an electric trumpet that fuses everything from hip-hop, RB, straight-ahead jazz, electronica and deejay turntables.

For 15 years Brown was in and out of New York City where he studied jazz trumpet under the Grammy-Award winning Randy Brecker. He founded his Toronto-label to help young musicians bring their new sounds to market, while staying in control of the creative process.

That label and studio are a cauldron of musical creativity, and the fruits will be on stage Friday night at the Boathouse. MacLean met Brown through the Toronto big band Chelsea McBride’s Socialist Night School.

“I got him to sub in on a Snaggle gig in February 2015 and he really dug the music,” MacLean says.  “And he said: ‘If you guys are making a record I would really like to produce.’ And of course, I jumped at that.”

MacLean loved working with Brownman.

"The man has so much experience in the industry and he's such a phenomenal player," MacLean says.  "We hold a lot of the same values.  So working with him on the project was an incredibly rewarding experience.  I learned a great deal about the process of creating an album.  He really bought out the best version of ourselves during the project."

Snaggle played two gigs during the Uptown Waterloo Jazz Festival in July.  It hosted the jazz festival jam at The Jazz Room, and played the main stage the next day.  MacLean wants to do the same thing next summer with The Long Slog.

"I really enjoyed writing for this project, I really enjoyed leading it.  The musicians in it are an absolutely a blast to work with.  They are all fantastic players.  Where are we hoping to go next with this album? We are hoping to take it across the country on the festival circuit next summer," MacLean says.


Brown sent a copy of The Long Slog to his old teacher and mentor, the Grammy Award winning Brecker.  Brecker’s thoughts: “Reminds me of a band I used to play in.”

Snaggle is: MacLean on keyboards, Graeme Wallace on tenor sax, Max Forster on Trumpet, Michael Murray on guitar, Doug Moore on bass and Tom Grosset on drums

"The incarnation of Snaggle with Max and Mike has definitely been my favourite one so far," MacLean says.  "The two guys add so much to the project.  Mike, he has an incredible breadth of influences in his playing, there is a lot of metal in there, as well as jazz influences.  And Max has an incredible rhythmic sense to his trumpet playing, so it fits right in."