Jazz is the most “in-the-moment” music. At its best, it is a shifting conversation between players – not merely to something to entertain those in the room. It’s a way to convey a message or a mood, combined with a sense of swing, to each other – and to the listeners. That contemporaneous dialogue is informed by the past and built on each player’s musical and life experiences. In his debut recording as a leader, Brandon Robertson takes that approach to a new level. You could call this the start of his musical autobiography. He wrote its eight original tracks over a 14-year period. Each tune reflects something important in his development as a man – and a musician. “Each song has a great memory that I hang on to, because it is tied to a significant moment in my life,” Brandon says. The project brought together a fine blend of collaborators from his different jazz phases to, for example, capture the distinctive nature of New Orleans or celebrate the births of his children.
Besides the eight originals, Brandon also delivers two of his favorite jazz standards, Brooks Bowman’s “East of the Sun (and West of the Moon)” and Benny Golson’s “Stablemates,” in a trio setting with pianist Mason Margut and drummer Leon Anderson. Like many other collaborators here, they worked with Brandon when he was studying music at Florida State University in Tallahassee. The project also features the bassist in various combinations with pianist Zach Bartholomew, drummer Gerald Watkins Jr., soprano saxophonist Adrian Crutchfield and singer Avis Berry (all from his Tallahassee days); and tenor saxophonist Lew Del Gatto and trumpeter James Suggs, with whom he has worked since putting down roots in Southwest Florida three years ago.
Throughout the aptly named Bass’d on a True Story, you’ll quickly discover that Brandon is not your typical bass player. He’s as comfortable taking the lead on a tune, playing the melody, as keeping time with the correct chord changes. His solos reveal a deep sense of melody, as well as unexpected accents that enhance the conversation.
1. East of the Sun (West of the Moon)
2. The Next Thing to Come
4. Majestic Nights
5. Mr. Lonious
6. Lullaby for Noelle
7. Peace by Midnight
8. Better Days Will Come
9. Phat Friday
10. Maven’s Arrival