Friday, November 29, 2013

Catching Up With Guitarist Brandon Coleman!

Decisions Album Link
Brandon Coleman is an exciting young guitarist that spent some of his formative training years here in my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. I caught up with Brandon who was gracious enough to field some questions on his new release Decisions and talk about the struggles an independent artist faces during these tough economic times.
To kick things off I asked Brandon to discuss the new release and some of the rather adventurous compositions within.
B.C. " "Decisions" as an album was ultimately me trying to capture a picture of where I was musically at the time it was recorded. I was living in Louisville with some amazing musicians, and I felt it was necessary to capture the beauty that was happening every time I played with these particular guys. I wrote each tune on the record imagining the sound of Luke's bass, what chords Diego might play, and what kind of beat Bruno would put to it. One might say they telepathically helped me write the songs. But other than that, each tune itself is a microcosm of a larger set of ideas that stretch across the expanse of the record. There are interesting harmonic concepts and clever little themes ranging from obvious to subtle that I included to tie the album together as an artistic statement."
As an up and coming force in the overly crowded guitar field, I asked about the struggles and sometimes bias against the independent artist simply trying to crash the glass ceiling of improvisational music.
B.C. - " As an independent artist, I am constantly looking for more fans and more press. Whereas the common statement in today's music industry is that it is "easier than ever" to handle things yourself, I find that in many ways that is untrue. A lot of major jazz sources in particular seem to think that jazz can only be created in NYC, which is a serious misconstruction that limits and stifles the growth of a jazz community and fan base. When I have gotten my record to people's ears, the general consensus is that they really dig it; on the contrary, I can send it to every major publication with a professional press kit and get no love simply because I am from Appalachia. For me, I would think that being a professional jazz musician who grew up in the middle of nowhere in Eastern Kentucky is pretty interesting; if I were an outsider reading about my story I would be intrigued to buy the record. Unfortunately the hype now is all about how many ways an NYC band can cop Robert Glasper. Don't get me wrong, I love all the new NYC cats but people across the vast and different music scenes across America deserve some love too! Thankfully yourself and the kind folks at the LEO have given me great press and my record is finding its way to people that never would have heard it before, which I am extremely grateful for. The state of the industry itself will never stop me from making records and playing music, I have an undying dream to keep on pushing to the top of the pile and refining my art. I practice 6+ hours every day hone and improve myself at my music and I am very serious about it!
Next we moved on to influences and their role in his creative process.
B.C. " I have very many influences on the guitar, namely Pat Metheny, Ralph Towner, Egberto Gismonti...but a turning point for me came with Kurt Rosenwinkel's music. I feel like he is a driving force today in terms of guitar. I found while transcribing one of his solos a few years ago that when I played the solo back, it was pointless, because everything he plays is so individual to him and a very deep and personal language. There are people who love it and there are people who hate it. That's when I decided that's what I want to do, is find my own personal voice. I stopped transcribing solos in particular and started seriously listening deeply to the intent of each performance, to really be able to set a mood! I am working every day to try and find my voice; I feel like I'm getting closer and closer and it really makes me happy when people respond positively to my music.
In continuing my conversation with Brandon Coleman I asked the young guitarist about his career direction and the balancing act between performing and teaching and how working as a legitimate jazz triple threat works harmoniously within his career.

 B.C. - "At this point in my career I am looking to perform more. I'm now living in Cincinnati and I have met a lot of gifted musicians who share a lot of musical genes with me. I'm hoping to play more around the area, do some touring, etc. and se how this musical connection will grow. I'm writing more and more music that expands on the quartet format and also in other genres. I basically want to do more of everything I possibly can! I have a couple records in the works for next year; a duo record with pianist Diego Lyra from my album and a record with my new quartet from Louisville, Anomaly, which is more of a collective effort where each band member brings in his own compositions.  

I have been teaching A LOT these last few months and I have discovered so much about myself it's ridiculous. I feel like already that has impacted my performance and composition on such great levels. It has put everything I do under a microscope, and I can kind of tinker here and there and improve little bits of everything I do; it's kind of cool! Already from teaching basic guitar technique to new students I have looked at my hands and said to myself, "Hey, you need some work there! Let's fix that". 

All the aspects of trying to "make it" as an independent jazz musician really work together, and I'm trying to get all the gears greased so things can start taking off!"

I want to thank Brandon for his time and encourage you to check out my review of Decisions which includes some videos and other cool stuff!