jazz & blues music blog with news, reviews, concerts & more, with a Canadian focus

July 18, 2005

Jazz Pianist Brian Buchanan

Written by
cindy mcleod

Pianist Brian Buchanan is a jewel in the crown of Canadian jazz. His talents as a player and composer are ‘cooked’ with the spices of Canada and added to the recipe of jazz, creating a distinctive musical flavour of our own.

I met Brian over twenty-five years ago, and our musical collaboration continues today, deeper and more profound with each passing year. I love working with this man, we invariably hear the word ‘magic’ when we perform together. The conversation of music is based on a solid knowledge of the art-form, in listening to one another’s voices, and the trust to step out into uncharted improvisational territory. We have built this unspoken understanding through our years of shared musical endeavours, and our kindred spirit talks.

As a player, Brian is well versed in the tradition of jazz music, but has developed his own style and sound that takes him far beyond the roots of the idiom. His technical acumen is noteable, his sound delightfully textural… smooth as silk or as rough as sand, dependant upon the composition and the combined voices of the players he collaborates with. Whether playing a ballad or a be-bop tune, the space he creates becomes the definition, his rhythmic feels and harmonic sense masterfully state the composition at hand.

Jazz Pianist Brian Buchanan
Jazz Pianist Brian Buchanan
*Cindy McLeod photo

Brian�s recordings are a beautiful blend of the master’s voices along with his own, equally deep and complex, they are expressive of the man himself. The players he chooses are thoughtfully selected for their insight into the composition and overall sound. Just listen to his Avenues or Soulstice for a glimpse into the depth and clarity of his musical vision.

Brian is also known for contributing to the jazz scene in a profound and everlasting way, helping establish several jazz clubs here in Calgary, and promoting/presenting artists such as Mark Murphy, Johnnie Griffin, and Clark Terry, among others. He is also known for nurturing and developing up and comers, many who’ve gone on to become great musicians in their own right, sustaining and growing the collective jazz voice of Canada.

In demand for his arranging ideas, he intuitively draws out the uniqueness of the performer who requests them. A great example of this skill is a soon to be released recording that was developed from a group of musical snippets whistled by the ‘composer’ into a cassette player. Taking these germs of ideas, he crafted them into complete compositions that fairly represent the originator, a formidable task for anyone of lesser talent. He wrote them with a ‘sound’ in mind, hiring an ensemble of Alberta’s finest players to best express this musical vision, and then invited the vast talents of Edmonton’s Mike Lent to record them. The result very impressive and will likely place the ‘composer’ firmly in the jazz market, one who has never spent a millisecond of time nor energy learning the art-form, but will benefit greatly from those who have. Such are the gifts of Brian’s musical spirit.

May we all continue to benefit from Brian’s continued contributions as a composer, performer and recording artist, Canada is exceedingly fortunate to have such a great talent residing in our midst, placing us firmly on the jazz music map!

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