Q&A with Kevin Brady on 'Plan B'
- Interviews / Q&As
Acclaimed Irish jazz drummer, composer, and educator, Kevin Brady celebrates The Kevin Brady Electric Quartet’s upcoming worldwide album release of Plan B with Ubuntu Records.
Martin Hummel, Director of Ubuntu Music, shares his perspective: “It’s a blessing to have the opportunity to work with Kevin and his band. I was fortunate to have the privilege to have Dave perform on an earlier Ubuntu release with pianist George Colligan, along with Seamus on an album with Eric Alexander. And now these guys come together with Bill Carrothers and you have one very serious jazz music cocktail. It’s a pleasure to have them join the Ubuntu Music Family.’’
Kevin has performed both at home and abroad with International artists such as: Peter Bernstein (guitar), Norma Winstone (vocals), Larry Coryell (guitar), Ian Shaw (vocals), Ronnie Cuber (sax), Guy Barker (trumpet), Bobby Watson (sax) and Anders Bergcrantz (trumpet) among many others.
All About Jazz U.S.“Brady is an impressive drummer with strong chops, impeccable taste, creative & most notably, terrific tone ”
The long-standing relationship between this international quartet is evident in their dynamic interplay The Kevin Brady Electric Quartet has a clear aim of creating and producing new contemporary jazz and the impact of this has been immediate. As noted by The Telegraph UK, “This group display an enviable poise and togetherness”, winning the appreciation of discerning jazz audiences in the USA, Europe, UK, China.
Their performances have been critically acclaimed for their dynamism and musicality. Touring regularly, they have consolidated their worldwide reputation as a compelling live act.
The Telegraph UK“This group display an enviable poise and togetherness ”
Q 1. Could you tell us about the inspiration behind this album?
For many years, I have been working within the piano trio format with U.S. pianist Bill Carrothers and of course, I have been performing, recording with Dave (Redmond) for nearly 20 years as a rhythm section with The Phil Ware Trio and Tommy Halferty's Group also with many different musicians from abroad.
Both Dave and I had the opportunity of performing with the late great guitarist Larry Coryell, during that time I had a lot of conversations with Larry about his fusion groups and the influence he had on that style of music. He suggested to me to try a new approach with my own music. So I started to think that a change in the sound of my trio would be a great musical experience for me and the other musicians involved.
I began to start writing music for the group while also keeping in mind the type of instrumentation that was being used. Bill is playing Fender Rhodes and Dave is playing electric bass. I then decided that the music needed to feature a frontline instrument and in this case, I thought of Seamus Blake, to play Tenor sax on the album. For this record, I was inspired by the music of Mile's Electric Groups and also Herbie Hancock's Headhunters.
But, I also wanted to maintain the same approach that the piano trio has developed over all the years of performing together. I think that people who have previously heard our music or seen us perform will be surprised by how different the sound of the group is now,(but in a good way) it's more energetic and groove-based. The improvisations that were captured during the recording session with these great musicians, if you don't mind saying so is some of the best music I have been involved with.
I also like to write music based on the titles of the track. So for example, Plan B, the title track of the album, is based on this new world we are living in due to the pandemic. We've all had to come up with a new approach and alternative plan for action.
Q2. Musically speaking, how do you go about taking the steps from initial inspiration to a finished piece/album?
When it comes to writing new music, I generally write the melody first and then harmonize it afterward. I allow the harmonic aspect of the piece to be changed during rehearsals with the group. Especially when you're playing with someone like Bill whose harmonic approach is so unique. For this recording, I also worked on different drum grooves and patterns to influence the style of the new pieces as well. Trying out different approaches to the tune is also important for me. Making sure that the right groove, chords, intros, outros are on point so that the music has a flow to it.
Another important step for me is to create the opportunity to perform the music live as much as possible, with improvisation things are constantly evolving each night you play and I believe that influences how the final recording is going to sound and feel. Making sure the musicians are not reading the lead sheets of the tunes anymore and they're less restricted when improvising is important. That way, I believe you can achieve a more integrated sound as a group. Obviously, what you decide as a producer is going to be the final version of what makes the album can be hard. But with this album, we recorded all together in one room, with no isolation, it was count off and just play. You perform the piece a couple of times and when mixing you choose the version that encapsulates the best performance. Hopefully, the people who listen to the record are gonna be in agreement with you and they enjoy the music as well.
Q3. What is the most important thing to you when making music?
Regarding being in the studio environment, which I like a lot. The most important thing for me is to be relaxed, while also prepared, I always try to maintain an open mind to the situation. If a member of the group that I am working with has a suggestion for a change to something in the piece, I like to try it out. Sounds very democratic, but when you have a group of really creative people all working towards the same goal, i.e. recording great music, I think it is important to stay open.
Q4. What would you like listeners to experience when listening to the album?
I hope that people who listen to this new album firstly enjoy it, and play it again and again. I am really fortunate to work with great musicians and although I am slightly biased, the performances on this record by the quartet are excellent. The vibe of the record is varied and I like to release records that feature different styles, not just straight-ahead swing music. So I hope you enjoy it! We really did when we were making it.