Take Five With Brandon Goodwin of B's Bees

Brandon Goodwin By

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About Brandon Goodwin:
Montreal group B's Bees is a hard swinging jazz outfit known for writing compelling original music and playing high energy interpretations of the music of past masters such as The Jazz Messengers, Thelonious Monk and Charlie Haden. Comprised of five core members, they wowed the audience at their debut concert at the Montreal International Jazz Festival in 2012. When bandleader Brandon Goodwin won a scholarship to play at the Montreal International Jazz Festival in 2012, he formed B's Bees with a lineup of some of the young star players in the city and never looked back. Since then the group has been in demand at prominent clubs around Montreal and the surrounding area, playing over 50 concerts and headlining two weekly jazz parties. They are currently on the roster at two locations of Montreal's House of Jazz and have also developed an entire show of Charlie Haden compositions to pay tribute to the deceased master. B's Bees released their first album to much acclaim in 2015. The eponymous album reached the #1 spot on several jazz radio charts, and reached #2 on Earshot, a Canadian national jazz ranking.


Teachers and/or influences?
I was born in Invermere, British Columbia, Canada, which is a very small town in the Rocky Mountains. I moved often as a child, and so I was influenced musically by a lot of different people who I met along the way. When I turned 18 years old I moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba in Canada to go to music school at the University of Manitoba. Unfortunately their jazz program wasn't quite at the level I thought it was and so I left after one semester. Ironically, only two years later, the great jazz bassist Steve Kirby moved to Winnipeg to turn the U of Manitoba's jazz program around, and now it is one of the strongest in the country. I then transferred to Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. It was the best move I could have made. Due to Concordia's small program size I was able to get a lot of playing experience with the faculty members, which helped me to improve quite rapidly. I also won scholarships that allowed me to work a bit less and to spend more time learning my craft. Teachers: I have studied with many great teachers, but the ones who had the most profound effect on me were Ari Hoenig, Dan Weiss and Wali Muhammad. Ari taught me some great concepts about time playing, and also taught me how to get a nice sound with brushes. He has some unique ways of playing the drums and his concepts have really opened my drumming a lot. Dan showed me ways of approaching odd-time signatures that have allowed me to approach them much more freely. He also showed me some of the concepts that he used when he was composing the drum scores for his two solo records. Wali was instrumental in my development from a student into a professional musician. He taught more drum wisdom than drum technique, but at that point in my life, when I had already done some serious woodshedding but didn't quite understand the purpose of it all, he was exactly what I needed. Influences: The great drummer-bandleaders such as Art Blakey, Max Roach, Elvin Jones, Jack DeJohnette, Paul Motian, Dan Weiss and Ari Hoenig. On other instruments it would definitely be John Coltrane, Vijay Iyer, Tom Harrell, Dave Holland, Thelonious Monk, George Shearing and Chet Baker. Also, Montreal musicians such as Fraser Hollins, Dave Turner, and Gary Schwartz are people with whom I have studied and performed, who have made great impressions on me.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...
I first touched a guitar. I instantly began writing a song that I could hear in my head and have been hooked ever since. A similar thing also happened the first time I played a drum set; I started trying to replicate the beat I was hearing in my head. I made my first recording after I'd only played the drums a couple of times. We recorded a rendition of Purple Haze into a single microphone on my parents' karaoke machine.

Your sound and approach to music:
The group's sound originates from the Hard Bop era, but adds modern influences. We write our compositions separately and then bring them to rehearsal to workshop them as a group. We don't try to sound like anything in particular but strive to make music that we enjoy and that will inspire the audience. In terms of performing, I personally work to create rhythmical palettes that will inspire my bandmates. I like to tune my drums a bit lower, and hit a bit harder than a lot of other jazz drummers. When we recorded our first album the recording engineer told me that I shook the entire studio during my drum solo!




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