When people ask me about my experience putting together the Steel City Jazz Festival, one thing I often mention is how forthcoming the Hamilton jazz community has been. I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by how many musicians have contacted me asking to get involved. When I started planning the festival last September, I thought I would have to do some legwork getting out to shows and chatting people up to get them interested in the festival. I didn’t view that as a chore, in fact it was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the planning. But still, I knew it would take time and effort. I do go out to as many shows as I can, and I do talk to as many musicians as I can, but I’d be lying if I said having musicians come to me didn’t make my life at least a little bit easier. Hamilton is full of enthusiastic, talented people who care about their community, and I’m honoured by their willingness to include the Steel City Jazz Festival in that community.
This past weekend I was contacted by Susan Edwards, a local business owner, about booking an act for the festival. Susan runs Humblepie, a shop on James St N between Cannon and Wilson. She mentioned that Humblepie hosts live jazz for Art Crawl each month; I’ve been there on Art Crawls and heard the jazz, it’s fantastic. The bass player, Sean Browne, taught himself to play mostly by ear. As a result he has adopted a non-standard fingering technique that lends his playing a dexterous, powerful sound. Sean comes from a very musical family. He is the grandson of Leo Browne, an Irish-born fiddler, composer and founder of the Ottawa Traditional Fiddle and Folk Art Society. His mother is Swedish-born jazz singer Barbro Nylundh (Browne), and his father is Canadian jazz pianist Brian Browne.
Brian Browne’s career has spanned fifty years and seven recordings as leader. Originally from Montreal, Brian moved to Ottawa as a teenager, where he began playing in clubs, and he soon had his own CBC radio show. Brian attended the Berklee School of Music and later studied with legendary jazz pianist Oscar Peterson in Toronto. In 1969 Brian was featured on a CBC television show ‘The Jazz Piano’ alongside Bill Evans, Erroll Garner and Marian McPartland, and in 1974 Brian won the BMI Composition of the Year award for ‘Morning Noon and Night-time Too’. He has recently returned to Canada after spending ten years on the New York jazz scene.
When Susan asked if I would be interested in featuring Sean and Brian at the festival, all I could think (beyond ‘yes’) was how lucky I am to be part of a community made up of so many capable people so willing to get involved!
So there you have it: the Steel City Jazz Festival is proud to present Brian Browne and Sean Browne on August 23rd at the Pearl Company. This is one show you definitely do not want to miss! Tickets are $10, show starts at 10pm. Check out some videos of Brian below, including part of his performance on ‘The Jazz Piano’: