Brian Newman "After Hours"

Brian Newman "After Hours"

Sun, December 17, 2017

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

$14

This event is all ages

Swing with Brian, Lady Gaga's musical collaborator, singer and trumpeter.

Brian Newman "After Hours"
Brian Newman "After Hours"
Jazz isn’t what it used to be, but for trumpeter and vocalist Brian Newman, that’s entirely the point.

American trumpet legends like Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie and Lee Morgan are already a part of music history. They’re revered and loved in the way they should be. As Newman explains, learning from them is paramount, but replicating them is pointless.

“I don’t want to do what’s already been done,” he says. “I love Robert Glasper and Kamasi Washington – guys like that are bringing jazz to another level but still referencing the tradition. Jazz shouldn’t be placed in a glass jar.”

Newman is here to bust the art form out of its constraints, and it’s a destiny he knew he had since his childhood. Growing up in Cleveland, the 12-year-old Newman envisioned his future as a New York City jazz musician when Louie Bellson (drummer for the likes of Duke Ellington and Count Basie) visited his master-class. “He went around the class and asked us what we wanted to do,” remembers Newman. “I put my hand up and said, ‘I want to do what you do – I want to be a jazz musician in New York City.‘”

In the young man’s mind, it was written, but not everyone thought so. One teacher had him play 10th trumpet in the second-tier high school jazz band, and flatly told him he’d never make it. “I knew he was wrong, but it also made me realize that no one was gonna give me anything.”

It only made him work harder at his craft, soaking up key influences such as Miles Davis, Chet Baker, but keeping plenty of room for his love of punk and rock bands like Nirvana, NOFX and Thin Lizzy.

Although Newman enrolled at Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, he dropped out in order to move to New York City in 2003 and pursue his long-term dreams. But just like everyone else in Gotham, Newman first had to first prioritize the short-term dream; making rent. “I put a suit on, and I must have walked around town asking people ‘are you hiring’ for about three weeks!”

He scored whatever bartending and waiter jobs he could, including one in the now defunct Lower East Side institution St Jerome’s – a grimy rock and roll dive bar known for good times, good music and some good people. “That’s where I first met Stef,” recalls Newman. The “Stef” in question is known to the wider world as Lady Gaga. “She was a gogo dancer, a DJ, a party promoter. She did it all. I remember seeing her play once with a disco ball, two dancers and a track. Her family were there selling CDs!”

Newman’s hustle was just as strong. He did his fair share of sitting in at West Village jazz clubs like Smalls, Village Vanguard, and Fat Cat. Random Craigslist gigs, wedding bands, recording sessions for hip-hop acts, nothing was too small during those lean early years in New York. He also became a part of the city’s burlesque scene, where he would meet his wife, Angie Potani (they married in 2013).

Eventually, Newman and his quartet settled into residency at the Plaza Hotel’s famed Oak Room (where they recorded their 2012 release “Live From New York City”) and a twice-weekly residency at the Gramercy Park Hotel’s Rose Bar.

Newman’s buddy Gaga went on to sell millions and play stadiums all over the world, but she never forgot her old friends on the Lower East Side. Newman was occasionally called upon to add his trumpet to her live appearances, including a Today Show performance in 2010, and a huge Radio 1 Festival in the UK during 2011.

But when she took some time off from the pop world to indulge in her love of jazz with Tony Bennett on 2014’s “Cheek to Cheek,” Gaga brought in Newman and his quartet to give the album a more modern dynamic. While recording the album, Gaga showed her allegiance and love of jazz music by having a trumpet (drawn by Bennett) tattooed on her right upper arm. Newman had the exact same one, on the exact same spot, done at the exact same time.

Both the “Cheek to Cheek” album and subsequent tour exposed Newman and the quartet to millions of new fans, but it also demonstrated their ability to Bennett’s son Dae, and Danny. Dae produced their debut album “Eyes on the City” and after becoming President of CEO, Danny signed them to Verve Records where they are releasing their first album for the label NAME TK.

Songs like “San Pedro” captures the quartet’s hard-earned musical abilities, and their thrilling power as a unit, while the catchy “Sunday Morning in New York” showcases how Newman can bring the city he loves to life, with both his vocal warmth and his evocative lyrics.

But this is a jazz album that makes a point of reaching far and wide. “You Don’t Know What Love Is” is a lovelorn ballad that could touch fans of Ella Fitzgerald and Adele in equal measures. Perhaps the most unexpectedly enjoyable moment comes courtesy of “Spooky,” which sounds like a horror b-movie with a Dave Brubeck soundtrack. Newman and the quartet are determined not to be hemmed-in (or fenced-off) by their own technical talent.

After all these years, Newman is exactly what he said he would be; a real jazz musician in New York City. He’s a fixture of the city’s music community, but there’s still so much more to reach for. ALBUM NAME TK marks the point at which Newman becomes someone that jazz agnostics living in far-flung corners of the world will love, just as much as the regulars at the West Village haunts he used to frequent.

“We can make jazz accessible,” concludes Newman. “That’s what I want to do – and I am going to do that.” And as you already know, when this guy sets his sights on something, he usually does it.

The Brian Newman quartet are:
Alex Smith - keyboards
Steve Kortyka - saxophone
Daniel Foose - bass
Joe Peri - drums
Venue Information:
The Teragram Ballroom
1234 West 7th Street
Los Angeles, CA, 90017
http://www.teragramballroom.com/