"Secrets", Brian's fourth album with Mesa/Bluemoon records, is a mix of cool-groovin', head-boppin' tunes and laid back, do your nails, rainy day melodies. Johathan Widran, of Jazziz Magizine give Secrets OK marks, but I think "Secrets" is just my kind of CD. Released the first of this year, Secrets has been telling everyone about the talents Brian posesses.
From the opening cut So Good, Brian revs up his Yamaha for a musical journey through the jazz lovers feel good sensors. Background vocalists Nanette Frank, Teresa Davis and Dianne Madison make this selection what it is, Sooo Good. Here is where the above mentioned head-boppin' comes in. The bridge solo by Brian is one of synchronized crispness. His fingers roll from note to note in a way that makes you think the boy has grease on them. In some places it is reminicent of much forgotten Alex Bugnon. ("Say What")
Notable guests with Brian on this CD are Gerald Albright on sax, Jeff Gloub of Avenue Blue, rhythum guitar, Ricky Peterson on the Hammond B-3. and Steve Finckle as saxman.
Track two, On my Mind, is one of those sultry ballads that will leave you asking for more. I think the title is appropriatle. Like most Cjazz artists, Brian tries to match the title with the emotions the music evokes. Typical of the Brian of late, On My Mind is one of those thinking songs and is smooth, soft and sophisticated. If you have a long, lost love somewhere, this tune will pull on your synapse like a child on their mother's skirt tail. "On My Mind" will stay on your mind.
Track 3, Backstreet is one of those "hood cruisers". Written and performed with the help of Paul Brown and Tim Redfield, the three splice this one together like the cable guy on steroids. The beginning couple of seconds reminds me of a Batman movie. I can just see a skin suited Bruce Wayne jump from behind a rock, fists on hips, and cape just a blowin'!
Anyway, back to the message at hand. Backstreet is one of Brian's trademark, block spinning tunes. If you've never heard of Brian Culbertson before, 'Backstreet' is a good song to be introduced to him by.
Speaking of introductions, I had the opportunity to interview Brian after he grooved me and the rest of his fans at a Virginia Beach concert this past March. Brian is a young guy (23), and is short in stature. A very personable fella, I happened to meet him outside the nightclub during the break. We shot some and smoked a cigerette or two together.
("his were wet")
While he offered me a FREE copy of the album under review, I asked Brian when about how he started playing the keys. He said "I was about nine years old. My mom made me at first then I began to enjoy it." I then asked who his influences were. "T. Monk, Miles, Spyrogyra, the Yellowjackets and especially David Sanborn, I like Sanborn, always have." This fondness for David Sanborn can be heard on Brian's cover of the Sanborn tune Straight to the Heart.
Besides tickling the ivories, Brian also plays a mean trombone. On the last track of the Cd, At The Backroom Brian lets loose on the slide in such a way that makes you wonder which instrument he favors the most. At the concert, he came all the way from the back of the hall blowin' and slidin'. It thrilled us all. (That was Regina's favorite part) Brian had everyone jumping and boppin all over the place!
Brian’s road crew had a blast also. Before Brian’s trombone serenade, the bass player and the drummer had what appeared to be a competition between the two. The bass player would strike a chord and the drummer would respond. This went back and forth until the bass player got tired of ‘just playing around’ so he strikes off on his own and DARED the drummer to keep up. Boy, those two were flyin’. This brought the crowd to the boiling point and when the guitar player wanted to get into the act, Mr. Bass pushed him to the side while still finger popping. I still get chills thinking about it.
It was a FUN concert.
The rest of Brian’s latest, ‘Secrets’, is a collage of smooth “thumpers”and ice cream Sunday afternoon, hand in hand type chords. For those who enjoy just putting something on and forgetting about everything else besides doing the dishes or dusting, this is a CD for you. Secrets is all about hiding your cares behind some sublime Grand piano while you note float from one mindset to another.
A soulful musician, Brian is one of the few entertainers whose personal essence can accurately be conveyed through his music. I’ve been to quite a few concerts and some performers just don’t seem to be able to relay the same consistent personality from live to Memorex. Brian does.
What you hear is who you hear. Nuf said!!
Until next we link.