A Conversation with Brian Patneaude
BP: It's been a cool thing. It's exactly what this area needs for the jazz community to congregate and grow. I've met tons of musicians from this area who can really play well. One of the things that makes it special is that it's at the Van Dyck, with its history and the people who have played there in the past. It's very well attended, much more so than we had expected. Week after week, more people in the audience listening than musicians waiting to play, which is rare for a jam session in this area. It's also been an opportunity to work with [pianist] Adrian Cohen, who's really great.
AAJ: Tell me a bit about the Albany jazz scene.
BP: Like any mid-sized city, there is a jazz scene. It's a vibrant scene with lots of people who do different things. There are a lot of musicians who play in other kinds of bands ' Latin bands, wedding bands, Irish bands ' who also play jazz. I think if some people had the choice, they would play more jazz, but it makes more sense financially to do the more popular gigs. There are a lot of clubs in the Capital District that feature jazz. Down here in Albany there's Justin's. The Larkin still has jazz shows occasionally. The WAMC Performance Art Center has some nice shows. In Schenectady there's the Van Dyck. In Saratoga there's One Caroline Street and Nine Maple Avenue. In Glens Falls there's Wallabees. So there's a handful of clubs in the Capital Region, and all of them have music on a regular basis. There are a lot of people out there making that music, so you do the math.
AAJ: Would you consider moving to New York?
BP: I wouldn't consider moving there to break into the scene. If I did move there, it would be to get into a more competitive atmosphere and get my butt kicked. I have no qualms about saying that. I'm very happy where I am. There's a very high level of musicianship here. And I'm making a living doing what I love, so it doesn't get much better than that.
AAJ: What are you listening to right now?
BP: I've been listening to Miles Davis's Water Babies and Wynton Marsalis's Black Codes (from the Underground). I think the reason I went back to those is that Adrian [Cohen] just started a new quintet with that instrumentation: Tenor, trumpet, piano, bass and drums. I'm trying to get some ideas for voicings for the horns. I wouldn't mind writing a piece or two in that vein. The Black Codes album, especially, has some great writing and great playing; great interaction between the players. I think that's the direction Adrian is trying to take, if I may speculate on his direction. (Laughs)
AAJ: What musician or musicians do you feel are critically underrated?
BP: In the Albany area there are a handful of musicians a generation or two older than me that deserve as many accolades as can be laid upon them. Folks like pianist Lee Shaw, guitarists Chuck D'Aloia, Jack Fragomeni & Cary DeNigris, saxophonist Leo Russo and drummer Dave Calarco to name a few, have been slugging it out in the jazz trenches for many many years and truly deserve to be recognized for their efforts.
AAJ: Where do you see jazz going in the next five or ten years? Where would you like to see it go?
BP: Where do I see jazz going? I have no idea. Where would I like to see it go? I would like to see jazz embraced by audiences both young and old, with the emphasis on the young. In order for this music to stay alive it needs to be embraced by a younger generation. My hat is off to folks like John Scofield, Charlie Hunter, Medeski, Martin & Wood & Soulive who have shared their jazz influenced music with a much younger audience who then in turn are curious enough to check out other jazz artists. I have seen this happen first hand working in the music department at Barnes & Noble and I hope the trend continues.
AAJ: What role do you think the internet plays, or should play, in the distribution and promotion of jazz?
BP: I think the internet is a great way to discover new music that you might not have a chance to hear otherwise. It's a great way for upcoming artists to distribute their own music around the world. My own experience has been very positive - Through the internet I've had people purchase my CD from all over North America and Europe!
AAJ: What are you working on right now?