June Artist Feature: Brian Drye

(Peter Gannushkin / downtownmusic.net)
(Peter Gannushkin / downtownmusic.net)

Trombonist and pianist Brian Drye has been a mainstay on the New York scene since the dawn of the millennium. He leads the group Bizingas (with Kirk Knuffke, Jonathan Goldberger, and Ches Smith) and also plays regularly with the improvising chamber ensemble The Four Bags which has been performing worldwide since 1999. He co-leads the group Drye & Drye with his father, Howard, a baritone saxophonist. Additionally, Brian works with fellow bandmate Knuffke in a cornet/trombone duo format.

This week Bizingas has what portends to be an exciting three-day residency at Ibeam Brooklyn, June 12-14, where Drye will be unveiling a number of new compositions as well as familiar tunes from the band’s catalog. After each performance by Bizingas, one of Drye’s band mates will follow with one of their own ensembles. Admission comes with a suggested $15 donation. The schedule follows:

Bizangas Residency at Ibeam Brooklyn, June 12-14

  • Thursday, June 12: Bizingas at 8:30 pm; Kirk Knuffke Quartet (with John O’Gallagher, Miles Okazaki, Stomu Takeishi) at 9:30 pm.
  • Friday, June 13: Bizingas at 8:30 pm; Jonathan Goldberger Trio (with Pascal Niggenkemper, Satoshi Takeishi) at 9:30 pm
  • Saturday, June 14: Bizingas at 8:30 pm; Good for Cows (Ches Smith, Devin Hoff) at 9:30 pm

Interview with Brian Drye via email, June 5-9, 2014

Cisco Bradley: What new music is Bizingas going to be showcasing during your residency at Ibeam Brooklyn, June 12-14?

Brian Drye: All the music we will be performing is from our second record which was recorded last summer.  I decided that I wouldn’t pressure myself to write a ton of new music.  Instead I revisited my entire catalog, picked the songs that I thought would work well for Bizingas and focus on adapting them for this band.  I’m using quite a bit of piano and keyboards within each composition and I’m working on expanding this as much as possible into the live version.  I’m excited to hear this set of music live which hasn’t been played since the recording session.  The new record should be out by next spring 2015.

CB: How has the band evolved since the group’s debut record?

BD: This new record is more produced and I decided to be more particular about the scope and direction of each song.  I just watched some videos from the last record and I had a lot more hair then.  I’m not sure if that’s an evolution or not.

CB: What prompted you to invite special guests Shane Endsley and Tom Rainey to play with you during the residency?

BD: Shane has been one of my close friends musically and otherwise since I moved to New York in 1997.  One of those old tunes that made it on the record was untitled forever, but I had played it with Shane many years ago.  Shane told me he loved the tune and taught it to some students at a clinic.  On the record it’s a piano / cornet duo with me and Kirk Knuffke and I’m excited to hear Shane play it on saturday night.  Tom Rainey is one of my favorite drummers. Hearing him almost nightly back in the late 90s is part of what prompted me to move to NY. More recently I’ve had the chance to meet him and get to know him more.  I know that Ches Smith admires Tom as much as I do and it’s an honor for me to have him as a guest.  Playing anywhere for more than one night in the same city is a challenge and I knew if I was going to have the same band for 3 nights, that would be really difficult.  So I decided to take advantage and include Tom and Shane.

CB: Can you talk a bit more about the new record? From how early on in your catalog did you draw the songs? Are there any surprises?

BD: Several of the songs I chose for this record were written over 10 years ago.  They are somewhat “hits” among a small circle of friends I played with in the early days. After the last record people were mentioning specific songs that they loved on the record and someone had mentioned my next record consist mainly of those songs.  I don’t think that’s exactly what happened for this record but I did try to pick a group of tunes that made sense as a complete statement. I think this record is less jumpy in terms of varying styles.  I wanted to make a record that was cohesive from start to finish.  I’m not sure yet if I accomplished that.  I felt a lot more comfortable playing piano on this record and I was surprised how well the Hammond organ fit into the mix.  

 CB: I’ve also heard you mention an early Bizingas trio recording. Are you also thinking of releasing that at some point?

BD: The record that was recorded in 2007 with Take Toriyama and Jonathan Goldberger is finally finished.  I haven’t figured out how to release that but I’m really proud of this recording.  Jonathan Goldberger gets just as much credit as I do for the record.  He and I worked tirelessly on a serious production, bigger than even this new one.  It’s been difficult to work on without Take but I’m really excited for people to hear this record.  Take sounds unbelievable and I think he would have been proud of this, too.

CB: I look forward to hearing both of them.

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