I was at NAMM last January 2016, and I ran into bassist Chuck Rainey. Aside from his legendary status (which would have been enough to listen to any endorsement of music by his mere suggestion) he raved about a bass player named Kevin Charles Brandon, a.k.a. Brandino, and his impressive jazz CD. He highly recommended I listen to it. Naturally I was intrigued; seeing as how Brandino is also playing on a cut on my CD (My Man – “Time Traveler”) with jazz notable Bobby Lyle. I had known Brandino was a talented bassist, but his broad range showed even more on his CD and wonderful body of music The Many Faces of Brandino.
I had never seen Brandino perform live so I was curious to see his show. I went to Seven Grand Whiskey Bar in Downtown Los Angeles, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. After the show, I really wanted to listen to Brandino’s CD. I was delighted and inspired by the music on it; and I was proud to learn the vast skill set this diverse musician/composer/arranger possessed.
“My Father took me to a Louis Armstrong concert when I was four years old. I took piano lessons with my sister at five and saxophone lessons with my brother at seven. When I was nine, my family had a band and they needed a bass player, so I got elected for the job.”
The Many Faces of Brandino has 10 tracks, which show a level of musicianship and composition that I’ve really come to appreciate. Since Brandino is a bass player, it’s no surprise that it’s funky and “fat.” Songs such as “Actual Proof” (just an example) are arranged by Brandino with lush strings and sassy horns. I must admit that I do have a favorite cut, “The Beginning of the End.” This track travels, and expresses a hint of melancholy jazz that is reminiscent of Dexter Gordon and Sonny Rollins. “Free Jazz” sucked me in with its driving bass lines and clever drumming. The piano is tasteful and impressive. These cats are “jazzers!” There’s no mistaking the authenticity of its improvisation. I really felt like I was sitting in a smoke-filled brick-walled beatnik lounge back in the 50s. I loved the saxophone’s performance and melodies on this one. I should also mention, “Where Is the World Going” . . . such fond memories of the Village Vanguard when listening.
“I wanted to do an album that would cover the genre of music that I love to play, and have recorded in my career. I rearrange some of the songs from a bass player/composer/producer’s point of view.”—Brandino
Another beautiful track is “Bolero” with its likeable melody and contemporary smooth jazz feel. The nylon guitar adds a real Spanish flair to this track. And speaking of guitars, Brandino surprised me with the guitar on the song he dedicated to Jimi Hendrix called “Rock It.” Brandino combines contemporary jazz with a “retro” rock influence that also emcompasses elements of progressive rock.
“Summertime” is a unique arrangement that is interesting and unpredictable; and one of the few songs that fades out at the end. I asked Brandino which song he felt was his single, and he responded, “Even though I love the song ‘Summertime,’ which my mother sang to me as a baby . . . people tell me that ‘Bolero’ has the hook.”
“Tell Me a Bedtime Story” is a smooth jazz, commercial track with memorable chord progressions. “Tell Me a Bedtime Story” is one of the longer songs on the album, but you don’t tire of this track at all. This song is very moving.
The Many Faces of Brandino is a great CD for jazz lovers everywhere. A common thread of non-indulgence, slick, yet sensitive arrangements, tight performances, and memorable melodies makes this a must-buy; as with all of the tracks on this CD, nothing is cookie-cutter; nothing is safe. And most of all, you will love the sound of Brandino’s bass!
All songs written by Brandino, except for “Summertime” by George Gershwin; “Actual Proof,” “Tell Me a Bedtime Story” by Herbie Hancock; and “Brandino’s Funk” by Brandino and Jimi Hendrix. Musicians who played on the CD are as follows: Brandino (bass); Andy Langham (piano); Oscar Seaton (drums); Keith Fiddemont, Rodney Taylor, Kamasi Washington (saxophones); Michael O’Neil and Michael Thompson on “Rock It” (guitar).
You can purchase The Many Faces of Brandino at http://www.brandinosoundbox.com/album-the-many-faces-of-brandino- and like him on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brandinosoundbox
Brandino and Friends DVD and Brandino’s Songbook and Melodies will be released later this year at www.brandinosoundbox.com