Whether you are looking for a tasteful jazz trio for your restaurant, a great jazz vocalist for your wedding reception, a top New York jazz ensemble for your concert, a jazz group for your corporate event, or a great jazz saxophonist to perform in your nightclub, you'll find them all on this site, which features professionally-produced videos of twelve top New York City jazz bands led by drummer Chuck Braman.
Please Note: This is an interactive multimedia site that has been designed entirely in Flash. If you are seeing this text, you are viewing this on a mobile device that doesn't support Flash, or that has Flash turned off. The multimedia functionality built into the Flash site makes it exceptionally quick and easy to navigate and sample all of the videos that are the substance of its content. For this reason, it is highly recommended that you view this on a laptop or desktop computer; if that is not possible, the plain text content of the site, including links to iPhone and iPad -friendly videos where possible (many are missing in the plain text version of the site, another reason to revisit on a computer that supports Flash rather than a phone or tablet), is provided below.
Restaurants and private events often require smaller groups that take up little space and can perform at relatively low volume levels. These bands fit that description, yet their music can "slow down a conversation and make a table listen," as one reviewer put it.
A few of the venues these groups have performed in include The Blue Fin, The Rockefeller Center, The Central Park Boathouse, and Shelly's New York.
The Guitar Trio is well suited to restaurants because of its small footprint. I've been lucky to have had long associations with several of the top guitarists in New York, which has led to several distinctive musical projects within this instrumentation in several different styles.
The vibraphone has a special visual appeal to audiences because, as with drums, it allows them to actually see and understand how the instrument produces its sounds. For this trio I've assembled an extensive repertoire of music that particularly suits the sound of the instrument.
The Piano Trio is always the best choice whenever a venue already has a piano. It's also the trio instrumentation that has the fullest sound.
The Vocal Duo gives the music the added appeal and accessibility of lyrics, which tends to move the music towards the foreground for many listeners. It is ideal if space and/or budget are a consideration, or when an extra degree of musical intimacy is desired. Conversely, with the addition of bass and drums, it can easily be expanded to a quartet.
(Please note: this section has been superseded by my new website, NewYorkJazzEvents.com. If you are searching for a jazz band New York for your wedding, corporate event, fundraiser, or social event, you will find extensive and updated information there.) Like all of my groups, the groups in this section comprised of great New York City jazz musicians who have been performing together under my leadership for many years, and who love and respect the music they play. Our music serves an ambient function extremely well, but it is the exact opposite of "elevator music"; it is real jazz that will compliment your event perfectly. (For additional groups perfect for private events, see also the Trio section above.)
A few of the venues we have performed in include Gotham Hall, The Museum of Modern Art, The Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, The Rainbow Room, and The New York Yacht Club.
I created the vocal/sax quintet as the ultimate group specializing in vocal renditions of the music of The Great American Songbook, i.e., composers such as George Gershwin, Rogers & Hart, Cole Porter, Antonio Carlos Jobim, and others. (Photos and audio samples of additional great vocalists I work with are available upon request.)
When it comes to playing standards (i.e., The Great American Songbook), this is my favorite instrumentation. The combination of vibraphone, guitar, bass and drums brings a freshness to familiar music.
There are two versions of this group, featuring either Nicki, the wonderful jazz bassist/vocalist featured in this video, or Heather, an equally amazing jazz pianist/vocalist who's photo and audio sample is available upon request.
The sax quartet is one of my most longstanding and highly developed musical projects. For private events, we play accessible jazz tunes such as the ones featured in these videos, along with more familiar standards.
Each one of these groups represents a stylistic project that I have been developing over the course of several or more years. They all have dedicated personnels and play a carefully chosen repertoire of great but rarely heard tunes that aren't performed by any other groups in New York that I know of.
A few of the venues these groups have performed in include Birdland, Lola's, The 55 Bar, and ParlorJazz.
Video 1 / Video 2
This is by far the most accessible and popular of the groups that I use in nightclubs and concerts. I originally created it as a project to explore the great but seldom performed compositions of my favorite hard-bop trumpeter, Kenny Dorham, but it has since developed to include compositions by other great musicians of the late hard-bop (i.e., Blue Note records) period. This is a band that everyone seems to love, first and formost the musicians in it: trumpeter Bill Mobley, saxophonist Dave Rickenberg, pianist Cecilia Coleman, and, (at the time of this recording) bassist Yosuke Inoue.
This quartet is my longest running musical project: my very first gig as a leader thirty years ago used this same instrumentation, and I've been developing its repertoire ever since, favoring modern jazz compositions with difficult harmony. As a consequence, I need both great and dedicated musicians for this group, and over the past couple decades of playing in New York, I'm happy to have found them.
Over the years I've had lots of great guitarists pass through my bands and learn my guitar trio repertoire; my current favorites are Khabu Doug Young and Nate Radley. One day I decided to see what would happen if I put them together in a quartet. Being the best listeners of any guitarists I've ever worked with, and possessing styles that are very distinct and yet very compatible, what I wound up with is one of my favorite bands. Check out the interaction of Khabu and Nate, who I've panned to the extreme left and right in the mix (best enjoyed with headphones)… this is a group that I can't wait to play more with.
One day, one of my favrotite guitarists recommended a vibraphonist to fill in for him on a gig he couldn't make. The rest is history: creating a new book of all of the best and most interesting tunes I know of that lend themselves to the sound of the vibes, and building a new group around it.
The common denominator of the music played by these bands is a greater than usual level of subtlety. Consequently, this is music that is particularly suited to quiet venues with attentive audiences. Additional groups of mine that particularly suit concert settings may also be found in the Nightclub section.
A few of the venues these groups have performed in include The Interlocken Arts Academy, The Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, The Grand Central Partnership (sponsor), and The Brooklyn Arts Council (sponsor).
Khabu Doug Young is, in my opinion, one of the best, most original, and creative guitarists on the scene today. Why do I call this the Khabu/Monk trio? Well, in fact, Khabu knows and can play most of the difficult non-Monk repertoire in my guitar book, but also, in my opinion, he happens to be the best interpreter of Thelonious Monk's music after Monk himself. I realize that that's a pretty bold claim that Khabu himself would probably be the first to protest, so perhaps let's just say that there is an obvious affinity there, and an evening of Monk performed in the context of this particular trio (also featuring the great bassist Matt Clohsey) would be a natural for a concert setting.
The Brazilian Quartet creatively interprets a wide range of Brazilian popular music in a jazz context. As a life-long fan of Brazilian music, this group gives me an opportunity to create new music from sources that most jazz musicians are unfamiliar with.
This group is related to my guitar trio (restaurant section) and double guitar quartet (nightclub section), utilizing some of the same repertoire ammended for the addition of acoustic piano.
Jazz pianist Bill Evans and Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim wrote music that shared a remarkably similar esthetic. Although a handful of their compositions have become standards, most of their best music is unknown and unperformed. This trio, featuring pianist Gary Varsace and bassist Yosuke Inoue, is dedicated to creatively interpreting these compositons. The videos in this section feature two late-period compositions by Evans. The videos in the Brazilian Quartet section feature same trio, with the addition of vocalist Monica Olivera, interpreting a pair of rarely-heard Jobim compositions.
Most bandleaders are either primarily musicians or businessmen. I would describe myself as an uncompromised combination of both.
As a musician, I’m only willing to play with the best musicians that I'm aware of, and I’m only willing to play the most interesting and challenging music that I'm aware of.
As a businessman, I’m aware that my ability to enjoy a life of playing music is contingent on serving the interests of the people who hire me. Accordingly, my groups always start on time and match their volume level, attire, style, and energy level to the venue we are performing in and the occasion we are performing for.
I'm unique in relation to most other jazz bandleaders in that I lead several different groups, each with a distinct instrumentation, style, and repertoire. (My motives for leading several groups are artistic, not commercial.) For this reason, I’m sometimes confused with the contractors who advertise on the web. A contractor will commonly assemble a group of musicians who may have never worked together before, along with a designated “leader”, who will therefore be limited to performing very common “standard” tunes that they already know by heart or can easily sight-read. While there's nothing wrong with this, what I offer is something different:
Another difference in my approach is to avoid hype. The copy on most musician web sites is written by the musician or contractor themselves in the third person and loaded with accolades. In contrast, I try to simply provide information, starting with instant access to videos of the groups themselves, along with informal descriptions of the groups and musicians written by myself in the first person (including honest praise, but for my bands and my sidemen, not for myself). No disrespect intended to these others, who may be as good as their copy suggests; just, I hope, a more useful and straightforward approach for the visitor.
After being a bandleader for thirty years, I decided a several years ago to do whatever it takes to make every group I lead and every composition I play special. So one day I decided to buy every single published book of jazz music on the market, copy from them every composition that I found interesting, and organize the resulting music into new books according to the styles and instrumentations that best suited them. I then traveled to Brazil to buy a comprehensive library of the music of my favorite Brazilian composers to organize into a project for a Brazilian jazz group I planned to form. Next, I asked every musician I worked with to email me a list of every composition they knew. These lists I edited, categorized and alphabetized, to use with these musicians in combination with the new books I created.
As a result, the range and quality of groups I led suddenly increased. Now I’m at a stage where I have several distinctive bands, each with a unique repertoire of interesting and challenging compositions that are not performed by any other jazz groups in New York City.
I was born in Cleveland in 1959, and moved to New York City in 1989. I've had a varied career in jazz as an editor, critic, speaker, teacher, theorist, author, drummer, and bandleader.
Each of the groups featured on this site is a real working jazz group with its own unique and carefully chosen and developed personnel, style and repertoire, comprised of great New York City jazz musicians who have been performing together under my leadership for many years. Because all of my groups are real working jazz groups (as opposed to the pickup bands many bandleaders assemble), each of my groups also brings its own unique repertoire of more-challenging and less-common music that is custom-tailored to its particular instrumentation, style, and personnel. My critera for choosing sidemen is that they be great musicians, responsible professionals, and nice people.
“One of the area’s rising jazz stars.”
“A forward looking drummer with strong musical roots.”
“You’re sure to hear from drummer Chuck Braman in the future.”
“The closest parallel to Braman’s Trio is the famous Bill Evans Trio of the 1960’s… Intricate, but hard swinging… Their work fit together like pieces of a well-designed puzzle.”
“A top area jazz group”
“Playing the standard jazz tunes innovatively describes the Chuck Braman Trio partially.”
“A super smooth jazz group that can slow down a conversation and make a table listen.”
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