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Kevin Brandon: Brandino Is In The House

Scott Mitchell By

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AAJ: What were the most rewarding projects that you worked on and why?

KB: Working with the Queen and King of Soul—Aretha Franklin and James Brown—is something that a person never can forget as a soul experience.

AAJ: Which albums are you most proud of and why?

KB: All the albums I've worked on are special because of the musical experiences. But working on the Outkast CD in 2004 was where I was introduces into the commercial Grammy world of recordings—and all the others that came after that, with my friend Benjamin Wright, gave me commercial recognition.

AAJ: How many Grammys do you have?

KB: Seven.

AAJ: The desert island question....If you were stranded on a desert island and could only bring 10 albums, which albums would you bring?

KB: I can't answer that because I would have to bring my 20 apple crates of LPs with me.

AAJ: What gives you the most joy out of playing?

KB: Making people feel good and enjoy the music.

AAJ: BTW, what is the brand and model of your bass?

KB: Warwick out of Germany Single Cut

AAJ: Is there a story behind how you chose your bass over others?

KB: When Warwick was looking for US endorsers to play there line of instruments Jimmy Earl told Hans Peters about John B Williams, on the Arsenio Hall Show, and myself, working with Aretha, going to do Bill Clinton's White House Inauguration Celebration. I loved the instrument the first time I played it because it was built like a high quality acoustic bass; Germany has a reputation going back many centuries in history as makers of fine string instruments.

AAJ: Is there anyone out there that you would like to work with but have not had a chance?

KB: John Coltrane and Miles Davis [laughs].

AAJ: Can you describe your typical approach to composing and creating new music?

KB: Looking at a video clip or film usually brings out a story from the scene and a musical idea usually comes into mind. Writing songs usually start with a groove of some sort; then ,you stack some ideas on top of that, like your making gumbo, until all the ingredients or ideas work.

AAJ: When you are playing live, and find yourself in a "creative zone or groove," are you thinking about the notes and changes or are things just flowing naturally?

KB: I'm usually in a zone from the music and letting spirit guide me along the musical path; it's more pure and real.

AAJ: To date, which artists and contacts in the industry have been the most helpful to you and have guided you in the right direction?

KB: I would say my friends Benjamin Wright, HB Barnum, and Ernie Fields, who have enjoy working with me and given me opportunities to let me do me on the bass.

AAJ: What are you favorite venues to play? KB: At this point in time it's the 7th Grand Whiskey Bar in downtown LA.

AAJ: If you could assemble the Brandino Dream Team Jam from any musician past or present, what musicians would be playing with you on stage?

KB: Elvin Jones on drums, Coltrane on sax, Miles Davis on trumpet and Herbie Hancock on piano.

AAJ: What songs would be on your dream set list? Remember, this is a dream list so it can be long.

KB: My song, " Where is the World Going," would be the song I would like to perform with these greats; after that it would have been all said.

AAJ: As you progress as an artist and a composer, does the creative process associated with writing new music become easier or harder?

KB: It's a little bit of both. Sometimes things come spiritually inspired and it goes the way it's supposed to; then there are times that you are looking for that right phrase and it might come in a day, week, or month. You never know about the creative process.

AAJ: How important have the internet and social media been to you as an artist?

KB: It's something everybody needs to deal with and, if you use it to your advantage, it can help you reach out globally in ways you could never do in the past. In 1987, I started going back to school, dealing with computer classes in media to stay on top of where technology was heading and how I could use it to my advantage as an artist and in my business.

AAJ: How difficult and time consuming is it to stay on top of your social media responsibilities?

KB: It's real hard and time consuming. You really need to allocate your time wisely and focus on what you are trying to write, record, or market in the entertainment world.

AAJ: How much time do you spend practicing?

KB: About two hours a day

AAJ: How much time did you use to spend practicing?

KB: About eight to ten hours a day.

AAJ: Who are your jazz heroes?

KB: Louis Armstrong.

AAJ: Who are your rock heroes?

KB: Jack Bruce.

AAJ: Who are your bass heroes?

KB: Slam Stewart.

AAJ: How would you describe your musical style?

KB: Different.

AAJ: What do you do for fun?

KB: Work on my 1965 Ford Econoline van.

AAJ: What is your favorite restaurant?

KB: RJ Southern Home Cooking Restaurant in Downey, CA.

AAJ: How did your family influence your development as an artist?

KB: They introduced me to a lot of different kinds of music.

AAJ: How important is chemistry with fellow band members when you are on tour?

KB: Without chemistry in your band, you don't have a band, you have individuals playing what they want to play individually, instead of collectively.

AAJ: What was your formal musical training like?

KB: Classical flute lessons in high school from Milton Hall, Watts, CA; harmony by Walter Piston; techniques of 20th Century composition by Leon Dalin; 20th Century harmony by Vincent Persichetti; counterpoint by Kent Kennan, and more.

AAJ: Did reading music come easy to you?

KB: It was hard at first but when you enjoy playing an instrument, you want to perform as much music on that instrument as you can, to open up possibilities performance-wise.

AAJ: Are there any musicians in your family?

KB: My sister played piano and my brother played saxophone and piano. My parents did not play.

AAJ: How supportive was your family with respect to your early adventures in music?

KB: Really supportive, music gave me a chance, It kept me out of trouble so that was good, but it also gave me a chance to excel where I knew I could.

AAJ: How has jazz influenced your life and music?

KB: Jazz is part of my DNA.

AAJ: Who were your early jazz influences?

KB: All the greats!

AAJ: Who are your current jazz influences and likes?

KB: I really don't have though influences anymore. They do what they do and I do what I do.

AAJ: How would you describe yourself as a person?

KB: Very positive and energetic.

AAJ: How would you describe yourself as a musician?

KB: I really don't judge myself; you tell me, you heard me play.

AAJ: What do you do for fun?

KB: Work.

AAJ: How do you relax?

KB: Chamomile tea.

AAJ: What was your most embarrassing experience on stage?

KB: Breaking a high G string in the middle of the show Dream Girls, where there are no stops in the music.

AAJ: What were some of you special on stage moments and memories?

KB: The time Aretha performed at Navy Pier in Chicago and the band kept playing for about 20 minutes after she had already left the stage. The band was so much in a groove and trance; we didn't know she had actually left the stage.

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