CF:
How would a fan describe your work?

BN:
That’s a hard one. I think they’d say entertaining. Without stroking my
ego too much…maybe they’d say original…engaging… neoclassic a bit. Fun.

CF:
We understand you practice everyday. Can you describe that process?

BN:
Lots of times it’s just me getting started at my home, in Bed-Sty. I’ll call my piano player, in Queens,
Sometimes and go over an arrangement. We don’t live that close to each other so often it’s starts as a phone call.

In just a few sentences we seem to speak the same vocabulary and get “it”. We know enough about the language and the repertoire so we quickly know how we will handle a song.

It becomes all about the language of the jazz and the idiom.

CF:
Does your mind ever wonder while practicing?

BN:
Only when I do technique, do I allow my mind to wonder. I do technique everyday to keep limber. It’s like going to the gym.

If I’m writing, my focus is on the actual song.

That being said, during that time you can also focus on the key signature. For example, if I’m practicing “Speak Low” by Kurt Weill, I find ways that it can be reinterpreted. It can be a ballad, or a Latin beat, or anything else. You can just let your mind go and come up with other interpretations.

CF:
So you are always finding a space for reinterpreting a song? Would you say that music evolves from another places.

BN:
You got it! Country musicians were initially borrowing from blues musicians but coming from a different place. It’s all the 12 bar form blues. They took W. C Handy’s blues song and reinterpreted it. This evolved a lot during the bebop era and continues into popular music today.

CF:
Do you have any rituals prior to performing?

BN:
I blow a few notes on the horn and do a bit of vocal exercises.

CF:
Do you still get nervous?

BN:
It more about adrenaline. But, sometimes it is easier to play for a large crowd than a small audience.

I recently played the BBC Radio 1 Big Weekend in London with Lady Gaga. It was 30,000 people in the arena and streamed all over the world. I just took a deep breath and hit the stage.

CF:
It can be at once reassuring to see the faces in small crowds but yet terrifying, no?

BN:
Yeah. I remember the small crowds of my youth and playing for 5 or 6. I would do small coffee shops at the age of 12 and 13.

CF:
12 and 13!

BN:
Yeah, I started booking my band rather early. I had a weekly Thursday – Saturday gig at age 14.

CF:
Where was this?

BN:
That was in Cleveland. I just loved playing for people.

CF:
Whats your earliest memory of music?

BN:
Maybe it was picking up a horn but it was really the blues that got me. It was the improvisational aspect of jazz that made me want to know how to do it better.

CF:
Describe the feeling you have before you perform?

BN:
It’s a deep feeling in your gut. It’s partly about doing a good job. Showing people new tunes and going for it. Yeah, I’ll miss a note every once and a while but I wont miss the same one twice. It’s about reaching for new ideas.

CF:
Have you ever seen the Spike Lee Movie, Mo’ Betta Blues?

BN:
Yeah, I still cringe thinking about it. I recently watched a replay on HBO and I had to change the channel before that infamous seen of Bleek getting hit with his horn. It’s brutal for a trumpet player to watch.

CF:
Do you have any other musical movies?

BN:
Bruce Weber’s Lets Get Lost. Its about Chet Baker. A great, yet tragically flawed musical genius.

CF:
What’s the title of your forthcoming album?

BN:
Live From New York City

 

CF:
What was it’s creation process?

BN:
It was recorded on the last night of the Oak Roam at the Plaza Hotel. We played every Wednesday for about year prior. That last night was beautiful. We had about 300-400 people and played a collection of tunes we did throughout our time there.

CF:
Perfect. So it was made out of one moment in time? No repeats. It’s now captured but it also has gone away.

BN:
Yes, we did it all on the fly and it has a great gritty New York sound. You see, I’m a rocker at heart.

CF:
Describe your ideal day.

BN:
I’d love to wake up and have a sound check at Carnegie Hall with a full orchestra and a full big band. Then go back to a fine hotel to prepare for the show that evening.

CF:
Describe a terrible day.

BN:
Not being able to spend some quality time with my wonderful fiancé, Angie Pontani. She’s an amazing woman, an absolutely stunning dancer and a true innovator and leader in the classic art of Burlesque.

CF:
What’s a little known fact about you that may surprise some people?

BN:
I have a lot of tattoos. My favorite is the lion on my arm modeled after a ring my dad got me.

 

Learn more about Brian  here and here.