Andy Brown


July/August 2017

Here are some cool things going on with me over the next month or so.

There was a nice profile on me in the Chicago Tribune on July 21st. Thanks to Howard Reich for making me sound coherent, not an easy task! The article was in part announcing that I'll be at Andy's Jazz Club this weekend starting at 5pm. On Friday I'll be there with my quartet featuring Dennis Luxion on piano, Joe Policastro on bass and Phil Gratteau on drums. On Saturday I'll be there with Petra van Nuis on vocals, Joe Policastro on bass and Joe Adamik on drums.

For friends in the Ohio area I'll be in Cincinnati on August 12/13 with fellow guitarist Howard Alden. We'll be doing a clinc on August 12 and a duo concert on August 13.

I'm excited to be with Petra's Recesssion Seven at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago on Monday July 31. We'll be making a live video that night so it should be a blast!

In other Ohio news, Petra and I are excited to be among the musicians at the 2017 Cleveland Classic Jazz Party September 15-17. The lineup of all-star jazz musicians at this weekend festival features some of my favorite current players, and we're psyched to be a part of it.

I'm lucky to have several great steady gigs at the moment:

Sundays - (every other Sunday) Trio at Winter's Jazz Club (7/30 with Dennis Carroll and George Fludas, 8/27 with Jake Vinsel and Joe Adamik)

Tuesdays - Solo guitar at Cellars Bar and Grill (I won't be there 7/25 and 8/1. Guitarist Andy Pratt will be filling in for me)

Wednesdays - Andy Brown quartet at Andy's Jazz Club with Jeremy Kahn, Joe Policastro and Phil Gratteau

Thursdays - Solo guitar behind the bar at the Green Mill

All times, addresses, website info, phone numbers, as well as other gigs can be found on my schedule page.

Hope to see you!


Andy Brown and the Zen of Mainstream Jazz
by Howard Reich
Chicago Tribune 7/21/17

Chicago guitarist Andy Brown recently watched a video interview of eminent cornetist Warren Vache that raised a fundamental question. "They asked: What do you call the kind of music you do?" remembers Brown. "And he was sort of at a loss to put a name to it. He said: It's hard to sell it when you don't know what to call it. "They used to call it mainstream, and you kind of knew what that meant," continues Brown. "And it was that area where swing and bebop and good tunes and just swinging earthy playing all kind of met."

Surely that description also characterizes Brown's music, a joyous celebration of familiar jazz vocabularies that never has lost favor with the listening public. Perhaps that's why Brown works so prolifically in Chicago and across the country, including a featured engagement Friday and Saturday at Andy's Jazz Club (where he's also in residence for the early show every Wednesday). The "mainstream" jazz values he represents may not win the media attention that often lands on more cutting-edge fare. But past jazz idioms never really go out of date, as Brown's busy calendar and ebullient music-making attest.

"Now there's a lot of suites and (long-form) writing and multimedia things, a lot of things being brought into the music, lots of influences and lots of fusions of different musics, which is all interesting," says Brown. "But when you just play the tunes and play the mainstream style, there isn't a lot of that. So the main focus is on the moment, on the playing. … To me, that's the core of jazz. Everything else should come after that. "That's where it's still at, that's still what makes it a music worth listening to: that element of people coming together and playing tunes. And it's hard to do that."

Harder than it may appear to the casual listener who's enjoying free-flying riffs riding a buoyant swing backbeat. But that's what Brown long has focused on, and Chicago-area listeners, especially, have been the beneficiaries. To summarize, he leads a quartet weekly at Andy's; plays solo every Thursday evening at the Green Mill and every Tuesday at Cellars Bar and Grill; fronts a trio every other Sunday at Winter's Jazz Club; performs steadily in the Recession Seven band led by singer Petra van Nuis (his wife); and more.

In all these settings, there's no mistaking the fluidity of Brown's playing, nor his tenacity in pushing himself artistically within his chosen repertoire. A few weeks ago, for instance, he co-led a quartet with guitar virtuoso Howard Alden at Studio5, in Evanston, playing deftly alongside an exceptional instrumentalist who long has been a mentor to him. That the repertoire featured jazz standards, Brazilian classics, gypsy jazz and obscure gems reminded a large audience that the sometimes-maligned "mainstream" in fact embraces a wide breadth of material and performance practices. All these musical idioms, says Brown, require at least one factor. "You have to figure out how to stay relaxed," says Brown, who points to an engagement he played earlier in the year at the Jazz Showcase with saxophonists Scott Hamilton and Harry Allen. "They're both such relaxed players, that was the thing I took from that. Petra even asked Scott: How do you sound so great? "He said: time, feel and being relaxed. Harry is like that, too. They just stand there, and the music pours out of them. The relaxed feeling is hard to describe, but you feel it as soon as you hear them. … It's almost like a Zen thing."

That sense of relaxation, however, applies to a musician's emotional state, not necessarily to the content of the music itself, which can bristle with rhythmic tension, fleet finger work and breakneck tempos. When Brown and Alden concluded their first set at Studio5 playing Red Norvo and Tal Farlow's "I Brung You Finjans for Your Zarf" (yes that's the title), they built to an exultant swing finale that made it difficult to sit quietly in one's seat. Yet their approach to their instruments was loose, their spirit freewheeling, their music an exuberant affirmation of life.

These days, "There's so much emphasis on doing something important with a capital 'I' — I'm not diminishing that," says Brown. "I'm just trying to have a good time. And if I have pleasure, maybe it brings pleasure to other people.

"People say to me: You're keeping these songs alive. No, I'm just keeping myself alive. I care about it, but not as any kind of cause. "If you're bringing joy into people's lives, that's the job description. And it might be corny, but that's what it is."

As for how Brown believes he has evolved since arriving here in 2003, after moving from his native Cincinnati to New York in 2002, he says he hears a lot of Chicago in his playing, though "it's totally subconscious." "I'm still into the same things I was into 20 years ago," he says.

And still honing his art.

Andy Brown