Five Questions With Brandi Disterheft Trio

Award-winning Canadian jazz contrabassist, singer, and composer Brandi Disterheft and her Trio have unveiled their new single, “Surfboard” along with a video for the release.

The title track from her forthcoming album, Surfboard — set for release October 2020 via Justin Time Records — the single and its surrounding body of work are touted among Disterheft’s most accomplished yet. Joined by two octogenarian masters — virtuoso tenor saxophonist George Coleman and the definitive Brazilian drummer Portinho — and world-class pianist Klaus Mueller, Disterheft authoritatively and organically guides the flow on a varied program that reflects her capacious interests.

On “Surfboard,” most notably, the artists nothing short of shine with their slick vignette arrangements and fitting homages to composer and co-creator of bossa nova Carlos Jobim, and bassist Sam Jones throughout. Inspired by documentary tandem surfing footage for the video, Portinho shines his signature groove on this pull from the Brazilian Songbook Standards with unrivaled finesse.

Check out “Surfboard” below and find out more about Brandi via our Five Questions With segment.

Care to introduce yourself to our readers?

I am a bassist/singer/composer and began playing bass in my mother’s band in Vancouver.  My mother is a B3 organist/ jazz pianist from Chicago who opened for the Supremes and Carlos Jobim, and remembers Las Vegas and many other iconic cities flooded with venues to hear great jazz.  My aunt is a Grammy-winning session singer in LA who has worked with Clare Fischer, Sergio Mendes, Daft Punk, (catch her live at the Hollywood Bowl during Halloween with Danny Elfman’s A Nightmare Before Christmas) to name a few.   Her voice sounds to me like an angel smiling down from heaven.  I knew I wanted to be a musician since I was 5 years old playing Linus and Lucy on the piano for my schoolmates and watching their eyes light up.

Tell us a bit about your music and writing style.  

I love jazz music, as it’s all I heard growing up at home.  Leave it to the professional writers to write about my music:  “a delightfully swampy number that evokes images of Clint Eastwood staging a showdown in a Brazilian lounge club” -Miranda Martini from the Discorder.  Or Raul Da Gama from Whole Note comments “it is appropriate to be reminded that listening to her is like putting your finger into a naked power-socket.”

My new album “Surfboard” features two octogenarian jazz legends, saxophonist George Coleman (most known for his work with Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock) and the definitive Brazilian drummer Portihno (known as the James Brown of the funk samba for his infectious unrivaled signature beats.)  Both these gentlemen with the pearly touch of pianist Klaus Mueller, create a unique propulsive sound I have never heard before.  I wanted to capture this sound, put my own stamp on it, and share it.

I compose on the piano.   I usually have lyrics I’ve collected as poems over a period of a few months, or random thoughts or clever phrases I’ve stolen from the great writers in a workbook.    I enjoy writing portraits of characters like Duke Ellington did; for example, “Portrait of Porto” is written for the drummer and my good friend Portinho emulating his child-like cheerfulness and unwavering playful outlook on life.    You can hear this joyful character in his drumming too!

Watch the OFFICIAL youtube video (surf footage from Hawaii) for the title track “Surfboard”:

Do you have any upcoming shows? For someone who has yet to see you live, how would you explain your live performance?

Yes, I have a regular online series “Brandi’s Club Live” every Wednesday on Facebook Live which features some of NYC’s finest jazz musicians I’m blessed to play with.   Our New York clubs are closed at the moment, and as a bass player, we normally never have a night off!  This keeps me practicing for the next hit.  My next touring date is in Quebec City in April, and we will make that our cross-country Canadian tour for the new album release “Surfboard.”

  300-pound gutbucket bass playing, sweet vulnerable vocals,  alongside the best jazz rhythm section players in the world.     That’s the powerful draw of New York City: the talent is endless and superlative all crammed on an ideal 42nd parallel fertile climate of an island where people come from all over the world to contribute to the jazz art form.

In a live show, a listener would hear hard-bop jazz with Brazilian jazz influences that meet innovative curve-ball compositions; I’ll always throw in a feel-good blues for the dancers and a ballad for the romantics to reminisce.

If you were asked to suggest only one of your songs for someone to hear, which would it be?  “Pennywort” from my debut album “Debut.”  Watch it on my youtube channel:

This is the opening song from the first album.  As the official introduction, it sets an inviting, yet eerie mood, as if strolling through a narrow rainforest path, lost in peaceful thought amongst the chatter of birds, and brushing against low-growing ground cover foliage of deep green rounded leaves suddenly uncertain if you are still on the correct marked trail.   (Yes, I am a sailor from BC who misses exploring those northern uncharted islands up the coast.)  With pianist Adrean Farrugia and drummer Sly Juhas, this album won us a JUNO; I’m humbled at these teammates’ sheer commitment to make sketches of non-conforming harmony with a simple melody into an epic 7 minute journey.    It’s hard to find that comradery, hence the power of friendship in a band: it will always elevate the music.

Canadian Beats is all about Canadian music, so who are your current favourite Canadian bands/ artists?

So many! Holly Cole, Roxanne Potvin, Laila Biali, Amanda Tosoff, David Virelles, Metalwood, Bruno Hubert, Ingrid Jensen, Jodi Proznick, Gordon Webster, Don Thompson…

Connect with Brandi Disterheft Trio:

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