Home > Events, Profiles > Finding Hip Hop in Bebop: Brandi Disterheft’s Evolutionary Road

Finding Hip Hop in Bebop: Brandi Disterheft’s Evolutionary Road

September 24, 2009

brandi2Juno-award winning bassist Brandi Disterheft has decided that if a younger audience won’t come to jazz, she’ll take jazz to the younger audience.

That’s precisely what she’s doing on her current west coast tour promoting her new album Second Side, a recording that was motivated in part by a desire to reach out to a different generation than is normally found in jazz clubs and festivals across the nation.

Disterheft won the Juno in 2008 for the best traditional jazz recording with her album Debut but points out that even that recording was anything but traditional, suggesting that while the new album might seem like a departure, it’s really an evolution. Of Debut she says, “It spans 50s/60s Blue Note to free music to some featured vocalists,” acknowledging,however, that ” it is more in the jazz realm.”

With the Juno came new tours and a conscious decision to reach out to a different audience. “I wanted to perform in clubs where I could get the younger people involved,” says the 29-year-old, noting that many of the younger generation reject jazz because to them it’s just “cerebral dinner music.”

She recalls, however, booking a gig at a club in Toronto where a lot of young people were up and dancing to the swing tunes the band played into the wee hours of the morning, producing what to her was “a really joyous event.”

Disterheft points out that even the beboppers got people up on their feet. “If you listen to Charlie Parker, sometimes all you hear is alto saxophone and kick drum that almost sounds like hip hop. I think that’s why people were drawn to it–it just made you want to dance–it’s the most joyous music.”

She says that on the new album she’s tried to incorporate some of that feeling along with more vocal work. “I’ve really found a new love for lyrics and I’ve been inspired by Joni Mitchell and checking out more of the Brazilian singer-songwriters…so that’s really opened up a lot for me and so that’s why there’s more songs on this album with lyrics…it’s just been a kind of natural evolution of where I want to go with the music and the crowds I want to draw in and take along with me. ”

Holly Cole guests on the album and Disterheft herself sings on two tracks.

No one should fear that the talented bassist is abandoning her jazz roots, however. For well over a year Disterheft has been living in New York and studying with legendary bassist Ron Carter. She says it’s been “just amazing” to learn first hand from him. “He’s so committed as a teacher…he’s truly inspiring.” Disterheft, who is originally from North Vancouver and was taught by players like Don Thompson and Oscar Peterson, had to audition to become Carter’s student.

She says he’s been working specifically with her on technique, teaching her to produce a bigger sound with a lighter touch and less effort. She adds that she’s always admired the “hard-hitters” who really “dig in” when they play, but Carter has given her something more subtle and refined to take into her performances. For now she plans to stay in New York and keep working with him and connecting with other players.

Disterheft has a gig in Vancouver tonight at Malone’s on West Pender and three on the Island, including a Market Square show on Friday night as part of Rifflandia,Victoria’s alternative music festival; a show at the Cambie in Nanaimo on Saturday night; and a more straight-ahead jazz show in Courtenay on Sunday, sponsored by the Georgia Straight Jazz Society. Appearing with her will be Sly Juhas (drums and percussion), Stacie McGregor (piano/Rhodes), James Champagne Robertson (guitar) and Vince Mai (trumpet-Friday and Saturday shows only).

You can learn more about Disterheft and hear her music at http://www.brandidisterheft.com/ For gig information search “Rifflandia”, “The Cambie in Nanaimo”, and “The Georgia Straight Jazz Society.”

– Rick Gibbs

Categories: Events, Profiles
  1. Rick Gibbs
    October 19, 2009 at 9:58 am

    Glad you are enjoying Brandi’s music – thanks for the comment.

  2. October 16, 2009 at 11:05 am

    How cool is this! I have spent the last 12 hours looking at youtube clips of her playing. She is awesome and so inspirational. So glad you showed us this! Very sad I missed the show.

  1. September 24, 2009 at 8:17 pm
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