A Conversation with Brian Patneaude
BP: One band I've played with is the Refrigerators. They're a ten piece cover band, I guess you'd call them a party band. I've learned about the entertainment side of the music, and the business side as well - what's required to get yourself out there. Currently I'm working with a 12 piece Salsa/Merengue/Latin Jazz band called Alex Torres y Los Reyes Latinos (http://www.alextorres.com). Working with Alex Torres has been an education as far as Latin music and Latin culture is concerned. I couldn't have told you the difference between meregue and salsa four years ago, but it's like night and day to me now. I've also learned a lot about the business from Alex [Torres]. He's got a twelve piece band that he keeps working regularly, whether its at a festival or a club or a school. He's got the band working and recording and selling CDs.
AAJ: As a member of the Empire Jazz Orchestra, you have worked alongside veterans like Jimmy Heath and Slide Hampton. What do you think you learned from that experience?
BP: That this is a long journey, and those guys have been on it for much longer than I have! I really enjoyed seeing Jimmy Heath, at his age, still enthused about the music and about playing with a bunch of guys he's never met before. I learned that this music can sustain a person's happiness throughout his life. I sincerely hope than when I'm his age, I'm still out there doing what I'm doing now.
AAJ: How did your quartet get together?
BP: I had known George Muscatello [guitar] for many years. We'd played together in different contexts, and I knew that I wanted to do something with him in a group on a regular basis. I'd managed to get a residence at Justin's [an Albany club], and I was using a number of different groups. I thought that it would be nice to have a steady band, work out a song book, and do a record. So the first person I thought of was George, and I also brought in another good friend, Danny Whelchel [drums]. George recommended Ryan Lukas [bass], who he'd been playing with for a while. We all just came together and it clicked. It took a couple of weeks of rehearsal and getting a repertoire together, and it's just grown from there.
AAJ: How long have you been together as a group?
BP: A little over a year, and in that time we've compiled a songbook of originals, to which everyone contributes, and arrangements of standards and pop tunes. And we did a record, which was a big accomplishment.