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About Dreaming Awake
Drummer and composer Barra Brown is among the most creative and ambitious music makers in any field in Portland, OR. His sophomore release with PJCE Records comprises a broad pallette of sounds: from the classical strings and voices of the album’s introduction, to the warm-hearted voice of Adam Brock singing about love on Brown’s composition “Tale.” But even as the record covers a wide breadth, it digs deeply into what is home base for this quintet, a rock-influenced, wide-eyed exuberance with an inventive melody always close at hand.
The title of this album springs from Barra’s realization of the fragility of life and art he had on the day the band was booked to go into the studio. A family friend who had known Barra his whole life, and had a hand in his artistic training, had been rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery to remove a brain tumor. While dealing with the news, he realized “there’s no excuse for not doing what it is that you’re meant to do,” as he put it. For Barra, this means pushing forward on his own aesthetic path, even as life puts up barriers and detours.
Among jazz musicians, Barra has an uncommon background. He studied classical flute performance at Lewis and Clark College, while also learning the drums with Alan Jones. After graduating, he joined the Portland music scene with one foot in the jazz world and the other solidly placed in indie rock, working with Old Wave, Morning Ritual, Alameda, and others. Knowing this about him, this cosmopolitan yet soulful and tuneful music makes perfect sense. Its the natural progression of an inquisitive young musician in a fertile music city.
This album is dedicated to my friends Valeria Ball and Nancy Teskey and to anyone who has battled cancer and the loved ones that have battled with them. Thanks to Chris Riedl, Jordan Markus, Laughing Tree Collective, Mike, Adam Brock, Denny Swafford, all the people who contributed to my fundraiser, and all the musicians who contributed their talents.
About Songs for a Young Heart
The Barra Brown Quintet (BBQ) is comprised of several notable figures from the Portland Jazz community. Bandleader, drummer and composer Barra Brown is a member of the newest surge of young musicians to develop a presence in the creative music scene here in Portland. A truly eclectic musician, Barra studied classical flute performance at Lewis and Clark while studying drum set on the side through the prestigious Alan Jones Academy of Music (AJAM). Barra has also toured the continental United States and Alaska with indie-folk group “Alameda,” and released one record with “Wishermen,” a collective of young jazz heavyweights dedicated to exploring genre boundaries and creating a new amalgam of many styles and influences. The BBQ is Barra’s newest enterprise and has the distinction of being the only group dedicated fully to realizing his vision as a composer and as a player.
The sidemen’s credentials are no less impressive. Trumpeter and recent NYC transplant Tom Barber is the senior member of the group, bringing his finely honed sensibilities and instrumental prowess to the fiery young ensemble. Saxophonist Nicole Glover has been quickly rising through the ranks here in town and has picked up gigs at home and abroad with Alan Jones, Esperanza Spalding, and George Colligan. Bassist Jon Lakey has become the most ubiquitous upright player of his generation. Guitarist Adam Brock, after studying jazz intensely at the university level, has moved on to pursue a burgeoning career as a singer-songwriter. Barra was able to convince Adam to revisit jazz, and Adam brings an accessible element of rock and country influenced electric guitar work to this vibrant, dynamic collective. The compositions and group interplay create something greater than the sum of its parts: a sensitive ensemble presenting epic, sweeping compositions with finesse and subtlety. “Songs for a Young Heart” is an impressive debut, and Barra Brown’s career as a bandleader is off to a roaring start.
About Barra Brown
“There are seemingly infinite amounts of up-and-coming musicians in Portland, but it’s very rare to find a universally talented musician with such promise.”-Portland Mercury
A truly eclectic musician, Barra Brown studied classical flute performance at Lewis & Clark College where he graduated with honors while studying drums on the side through the prestigious Alan Jones Academy of Music (AJAM). Barra has also toured the continental United States and Alaska with indie-folk group Alameda, Ages and Ages, Shook Twins, and Morning Ritual. Following his debut release as a leader on PJCE Records, one of Barra’s other projects, The Wishermen, a collective of young jazz heavyweights dedicated to exploring genre boundaries and creating a new amalgam of many styles and influences, recently released an EP on Cavity Search Records (Elliott Smith, Wayne Horvitz). Barra has worked with Michael Curry, PNCA, Alan Jones, Radiation City, Raymond Byron (Ray Raposa), Ages and Ages, Shook Twins, and Morning Ritual.
Barra Brown, drums/compositions
Nicole Glover, tenor saxophone
Thomas Barber, trumpet
Dan Duval, guitar
Arcellus Sykes, electric and acoustic bass
Adam Brock, vocals and guitar on tracks 2 & 5
Appearances by: Abbey Hickman, Amanda Farmer, Shohei Kobayashi, and Jeff Evans vocals
Kyleen King-viola, Patti King-violin, Jessie Detweiller-cello
Songs for a Young Heart
“There are seemingly infinite amounts of up-and-coming musicians in Portland, but it’s very rare to find a universally talented musician with such promise. Barra Brown and his quintet stand more of a chance for longevity than the average indie rocker or electronic artist that we’re seeing pop up with increasing frequency.”-Portland Mercury (Full Article)
“Like those other Portland-bred jazzers Blue Cranes and Esperanza Spalding, Brown stands a real chance of breaking out of the jazz bubble and reaching much broader audiences. “-Willamette Week (Full Article)
“A tuneful debut album from drummer Barra Brown, whose Songs for a Young Heart proves that he knows how to tie an idea to a strong melody.”-Bird is the Worm (Full Article)