Saxophonist, flutist, clarinetist, oboist, flutist and composer Brian Landrus earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Nevada in Reno and two Master's degrees in music from the New England Conservatory of Music (NEC). He has worked with Michael Cain, George Garzone, Jerry Bergonzi, Danilo Perez, Bob Brookmeyer, Frank Carlberg, John Lockwood, Allan Chase, Jason Palmer, Rudy Royston, Nir Felder, Roscoe Mitchell, Darryl Harper, Matthew Parish, Rakalam Bob Moses, the Maria Schneider Orchestra and the Ken Schaphorst Orchestra. He currently teaches at the 92Y School of Music in Manhattan and at the Lagond Music School. Forward was originally released in 2007, but has been reissued on the Cadence Jazz Label.
For a debut CD Landrus does a very smart thing, he opens the disc with a jazz standard, Thelonious Monks’ "Ask Me Now." By playing a standard he not only pays homage to the history of the art, but also demonstrates his ability to play within standard chord changes. Then, after laying the groundwork of his ability, the rest of the disc is full of his own compositions.Landrus is a solidly schooled, firmly established in the tradition musician who works in the straight-ahead arena. This is not to say that he plays changes like they did 50 years ago. Coming from an NEC background, Landrus is like other memorable NEC graduates Rachel Z and Dave Douglas in that he is questing to find other ways interpret ii-V-Is in such a way that respects jazz’s history yet stakes out new territory at the same time. Landrus does this through the use of mixing altered chordal patterns in his solo lines while original chord changes are played underneath. Finding a way to mix his changed harmonic lines with the original as-composed harmonies is where Landrus excels. In between the two mind thoughts at play Landrus is able to fashion conceptualizations that are stark, yet riveting. Whether he’s doing this on baritone saxophone or bass clarinet is besides the point. By staking out his own area of development, he works to show some significant forward-thinking tendencies.This recording shows none of the pitfall hallmarks of so many of today’s debut discs, it was not done too soon in the scheme of his development and it has carefully crafted original compositions that don’t appear to have been whipped off at the last minute. The way in which "The Stream" de-evolves at the end and the open-ended treatment of ensemble interplay, reminiscent of Chick Corea’s Is sessions, are just two examples of how serious Landrus is in putting together his music. This is an especially noteworthy debut from an artist who bears watching by those who care about the transcendent and new in jazz.