Jazz Musician / CEO, Brownman Music Inc. & Browntasauras Records, Toronto, ON. Born: Trinidad.
Called “Canada’s preeminent Jazz trumpeter” by NYC’s Village Voice and considered one of the most acclaimed improvisers residing in Canada, Brownman, born on the small Caribbean island of Trinidad, is a multiple award-winning NYC-schooled protégé to his teacher, Grammy-winning trumpet legend, Randy Brecker.
In the spirit of supreme trumpet genre-crossing visionaries such as Brecker and Miles Davis, Brownman tirelessly leads and actively composes for no less than 6 ensembles of his own. He is also a musical director and/or featured soloist in countless other groups; a testament to his unparalleled diversity of musical vision and skills making him one of Canada’s most decorated Jazz artists and a highly in-demand session call for both Universal and Sony/BMG recording studios in forms of music ranging from Be-Bop to Hip Hop. As a featured soloist he has appeared with Canada’s leading Latin, Urban, Hip Hop, Reggae, Island and DJ artists in addition to his foundational Jazz milieu. With just under 300 recording credits to his name – many of these albums having won or been nominated for Junos (Canada’s Grammy) – he is considered to be one of the most unique and provocative improvising trumpet players on the scene today and is widely regarded as a vanguard for the evolution of Jazz in Canada.
As a leader, Brownman is best known for his work with his multi-award winning Latin-Jazz-Urban ensemble, Cruzao. They have toured Canada’s Jazz festival and club circuit extensively, winning the 2001 Montreal Jazz Fest’s coveted “Grand Prix du Jazz Award” leading to his being signed to the prestigious Justin Time Records label, simultaneous to Brownman winning a CBC-Galaxie “Rising Star” award. The subsequent 2002 release of Shades Of Brown rocketed to #1 on Canada’s Jazz charts, remaining there for 3 months as Cruzao toured internationally; Brownman was awarded a National Jazz Award for “Composer of the Year” for the tunes he composed on that same recording. Europe welcomed the Brownman Akoustic Trio in 2002 & 2003 and the Brownman Electryic Trio in 2004 as the groups toured that continent and recorded 2 albums released on European labels.
In 2005, Brownman embarked on an extensive Canadian tour early in the year, then on a South American tour, beginning in Cuba. At the personal invitation of legendary pianist Chucho Valdes, he represented Canada at the Havana Jazz Festival; leading Cruzao Havana, comprised of an all-Cuban rhythm section featuring members of the essential Afro-Cuban ensemble, Irakere, performing original Brownman compositions as recorded by Cruzao. This performance marked the beginning of a two-month extensive tour of South and Central America concluding with a gig with Jazz saxophone legend Gary Bartz in Belize and a recording session in Cuba with the luminous timba group Chispa Y Los Complics. 2006 was a busy year for him and included 7 national and international tours, a multitude of recording sessions, and appearances with such legends as legendary rapper Guru, pop superstar Nelly Furtado & NYC Brazilian harmonica icon Hendrik Meurkens.
From 2006 to 2010, Brownman was the featured soloist with the legendary New York City Jazz/Hip-Hop artist Guru (of Gangstarr fame) for his Jazzmatazz ensemble (replacing Donald Byrd in the group), catalyzing his appearance on the cover of Coda magazine, Canada’s most acclaimed Jazz publication. In December 2009, he launched his own independent record label, Browntasauras Records, with the Brownman Electryc Trio debut recording Juggernaut as it’s flagship release, along with re-issues of his entire back-catalogue from other groups he’s led.
Since returning to Canada from NYC, Brownman has been on the cutting edge of modern music in the nation for the last decade, winning multiple awards nationally, and achieving international recognition while touring the globe.
Brownman also holds a degree in physics, a minor in philosophy, writes the brass column for Canadian Musician Magazine and is an often called upon international lecturer and clinician on such topics as “advanced Jazz harmony”, “Hip Hop and the modern Jazz improviser” & “Latin rhythms for the Jazz improviser”.
Career: With just under 300 recording appearances & over 4000 live performances to his name, Brownman has performed or recorded with the likes of Wayne Shorter, Randy Brecker, John Scofield, Charlie Hunter, Gary Bartz, Gary Thomas, Soulive, Fertile Ground, Kenny Wheeler, Hugh Fraser, Don Thompson, Kirk Macdonald, Pat Labarbera, Dave Restivo, Dave Young, Stich Wynston, Kelly Jefferson, Quincin Nachoff, Heather Bambrick, Philosopher Kings, Guru, Jazzmatazz, KRS-One, Big Daddy Kane, K-OS, Kyprios, Rikoshay, Pocket Dwellers, Nelly Furtado, Dave Matthews Band, Moses Mayes, God Made Me Funky, Ashanti, Divine Brown, Grüvoria, One Step Beyond, Kush, Jason Wilson, Tabarruk, D’bi Young, Dub Trinity, Kobo Town, Irakere, NG La Banda, Chucho Valdes, Danilo Perez, Hilario Duran, Horacio Hernandez, Energia Latina, Chiva, Bestial, Cimarron, Ricky Franco, Fito Blanko, Eliana Cuevas, Plan C, Macondo, Pacande, Banda Bella, Dominicanada & Talib Kweli, Beyoncé, Sting, and many more.
Other: Brownman has been revealed by CBC Radio Canada to be the most recorded trumpet player in Canadian history; he is one of the most decorated Jazz artists residing in Canada (with 11 nominations at the National Jazz Awards, three wins, and has appeared on over 50 Juno winning records); his image hangs in two art galleries in France (where he’s revered as the Jazzmatazz trumpet player); he’s the most called-upon Jazz artist in the nation right now with over 300 recording credits and 5000 live performances adorning his career; and is included in many Who’s Who lists for Canadian Culture – including Air Canada’s “top 10 reasons to visit Canada” (Brownman was listed as number 6).
Honours: Brownman, Electryc Trio – Independent Music Award nominee, “Jazz Group of the Year” (2010); Brownman Electryc Trio, Artvoice Magazine nominee, “Jazz Act of the Year” (2010); Brownman, named “favorite touring soloist” (w/ Jazzmatazz) by London, UK’s Jazz After Dark (2009); Brownman Electryc Trio, Independent Music Award nominee, “Jazz Group of the Year” (2008); Brownman Electryc Trio, National Jazz Award nominee, “Electric Jazz Group of the Year” (2008); Brownman, NOW Magazine, “Toronto Jazz Trumpet Player of the Year” (2007); Brownman Electryc Trio, National Jazz Award winner, “Electric Jazz Group of the Year”, (2007); Brownman, National Jazz Award nominee, “Musician of the Year” (2007); Brownman, National Jazz Award nominee, “Latin/Jazz Artist of the Year” (2007); Brownman, SOCAN National Jazz Award nominee, “Composer of the Year” (2007); Brownman, National Jazz Award nominee, “Instrumentalist of the Year” (flugelhorn, 2007); Brownman, National Jazz Award nominee, “Latin/Jazz Artist of the Year” (2006); Brownman, NOW Magazine “Toronto Jazz Artist of the Year” (2005); Brownman & Cruzao, Independent Music Award nominee, “Jazz Group of the Year”(2004); Marrion Matizado “Best Toronto Salsa Band” (SalsaSPOT, 2003): Brownman, National Jazz Award winner, “Jazz Composer of the Year” (2002); Brownman, National Jazz Award nominee, “Jazz Trumpet Player of the Year” (2002); Brownman & Cruzao, winner, Montreal Jazz Fest “Grand Prix Du Jazz Award” (2001); Brownman & Cruzao, winner, CBC Galaxie “Rising Star Award” (2001); Brownman, 3- time nominee, “Jazz Trumpet Player of the Year” (NJA, 2001); Brownman & Cruzao, 4- time nominee, “Electric Group of the Year” (NJA, 2001).
Favourite book? Yikes, that’s hard. I read, on average, about 3 books a week and now I have to pick only 1? I dunno if I can do that man. I might be able to pick 1 for *this* month… but a single favourite book eva? Geez. If I HAD to pick only one – I think it might be Robert Heinlein’s, Stranger In A Strange Land. But the original UNEDITED version of 220,000 words, that wasn’t published until 1991, arranged by Heinlein’s wife after his death… not the one that was released in 1961. The unedited version is certainly one of the most provocative and compelling works from this grandmaster of writing, but what has me ranking it as one of the best ever is it’s stark and poignant criticisms on religion, philosophy & our very perceptions of existence and what’s important. It is almost Ayn Rand-ian at times, while the sheer entertainment the book delivers makes my head spin and often has me grinning from ear to ear at Jubal’s irreverent wisdom. I read and re-read this book once every year while doing my physics degree (before leaving for New York) and it has special meaning because it was first given to me by one of my closest friends and fellow physicist at the time Mike Moroney.
Favourite quotes? Both are on my front door so it’s the first thing you see when you walk in my house and both concern the same subject – the Mysterious: 1) “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.” – Albert Einstein (Physics Pioneer, 1945). 2) “A lot of musicians worry about protecting what I call their musical foundation. They want to be on their Ps and Qs on stage, put their best foot forward, play their best runs, and try to impress people. But I’m at a point where I’m just going say, ‘To hell with the rules.’ That’s all I’m doing with the music now. I’m 71, I’ve got nothing to lose now. I’m going for the unknown, the mysterious.” – Wayne Shorter (Jazz Pioneer, 2005). I wanna add one more – cuz I live my life by this quote: “I’m always thinking about creating. My future starts when I wake up every morning.” – Miles Davis
Given the chance, what would you love to do that you haven’t done yet? Exist with absolute conviction of my place in the universe. I know that sounds esoteric, but what I mean is that I’d love to be able to know with certainty that every note I play, or every step I make is exactly the right one, worthy of an audience…worthy of a cover charge, you know? I generally move with confidence through life, and with the knowledge that every decision may not be the right one, and the fortitude to accept my own mistakes and be accountable for them (both personally and musically)… But wouldn’t it be great to just KNOW it was all more or less – right? I guess this stems from a dichotomy I wrestle with often as an improvising Jazz musician – the very best moments in Jazz (for me) stem from a deep reaching need to explore a moment and connect with those around me while exploring that moment… but it’s so terribly self-serving, this exploration – almost selfish – and I’m often at odds with that. In the most expressive solos I’ve ever heard (Miles, Coltrane, Keith Jarrett, Bill Evans, Coltrane) you can HEAR the artist exploring… searching…trying to use musical notes to give voice to that quest. And what makes it so incredible is that, if you know how to listen, you’re inside that artist’s head with him while he’s turning existence over and over through his improvisations – examining life from every perspective with note choices and rhythm. When I do it, I’m always in a haze… A self-serving zone of exploration… I’m not all here when I’m in that place…and after a whole night of it, I sometimes feel guilty for having swam so deep inside my own head in front of an audience… Who paid to see that? Weird. You ask what I’d love to do I haven’t done yet?… I’d love to exist with absolute conviction of my place in the universe – because I think then I wouldn’t feel any issues with the self-serving nature of deeply improvising Jazz exploration.
Who or what inspires you? Humanity. Compassion. Humility. Serenity. Honour. Courage. Irreverence. Nobility. Justice. Tolerance. Exploration. These traits of character all inspire me. And people who have inspired me – and continue to, the more I read of their lives: Euclid, Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, Ernest Rutherford, Faraday, Darwin, Freud, Galileo, Da Vinci, Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Ann Rand, Bill Evans, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Freddie Hubbard, Clifford Brown, Woody Shaw, Wayne Shorter, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, Mandela, Homer, Dickens, Mark Twain, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Picasso, Rodin…the list is long…
Why do you do what you do? Because I must. Because it’s what I was put here to do.