Brian Lynch is a very unique artist with a very unique sound. When he does something like record an album with the legendary Eddie Palmieri, well, that is done in a very unique way as well. The first thing that stands out about Brian Lynch is not only how his latest album Simpatico was recorded, but how fans of this artist, or just those who may not know much about him but want to learn, can get a very special look into the creative process that goes into producing a recording. This can be accomplished by going to the Artist Share website and taking a look around.
For a very nominal fee listeners can become "participants" and depending on the level of participation you choose,can find their way into the studio, the heart, and the very mind of this gifted and extremely talented individual. Participants can down load notes, photographs, journal entries, bits of songs or steaming media all with the click of a button. There is no other place that will allow the ardent fan such access. (the site is www.brianlynch.artistshare.com) It is both time and money well spent, take a look.
Now the artist. Brian Lynch is quoted as having said that "This is the end of the century, and a lot of music has gone down. I think that to be a straight ahead jazz musician now means drawing on a wider variety of things than 30 or 40 years ago. Not to play a little bit of this or a little bit of that, but to blend everything together into something that sounds good. It doesn't sound like pastiche or shifting styles; It's people with a lot of knowledge."
There are few players on the scene today who more embody that setiment more than this 48-year old trumpet master. Brian's playing is at home with the complexities of clave with Afro American pioneer Eddie Palmieri as he is swinging through advanced harmony with bebop masestro Phil Woods. In recent years he has worked with Buena Vista Social Club alumnus Barbarito Torres, dance remixer Joe Clausell and the members of the influential Latin group Yerba Bunea.
He was born on September 12 , 1956 in Urbana Illinois and grew up in Milwaukee Wisconsin. He worked with pianist Buddy Montgomery and organist Melvin Rhyne and he earned a degree from the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. Moving to San Diego in 1980 until 1981 he also worked with Charles McPherson. At the end of 1981 Lynch moved to New York and soon began to work with likes of Horace Silver and the Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz orchestra while at the same time recording and playing with salsa bandleader Angel Canales abd Hector LaVoe. It was through LaVoe that Lynch first met and began to work with Eddie Palmieri. At the end of 1988 Lynch joined what turned out ot be the last edition of Art Blakley and the Jazz Messengers.
The occasion for our conversation was the release of Simpatico on the Artist Share label, this was a project very close to his heart as he put his own money where his horn was, so to speak.
JazzReview: When you put an album such as this together is there a theme in your mind. Do you know where you want to go with it.
Brian Lynch:I think that you can seperate most the projects that I have done in the two catagories, most of them have not really had a theme per se. In the sense like you know a tribute to Ray Charles or that kind of thing. I have done one record that I thought turned out very well that was a tribute to the trumpet masters, which has a theme to it. Themes are good it gives you something to wrap and organize every thing around and it gives the listener something to focus on as well. But in general I don't, like the theme of this record is basically the collabortive effort we did. It's my take on Eddie's music.
JazzReview: With his help.
Brian Lynch: That made it even more cool. I mean when I start a project I wonder what will make someone listen all the way through, what will make this intriguing to the listener.
JazzReview: When you compose a song what kind of inspiration do you need? What goes through your mind at the time?
Brian Lynch: I have written things on my own before, but on this record where I got to collaborate with someone of the likes of Eddie it was very special. It was like one person giving a stimulus to the other, one throwing something out and then you answer back with something of yours. It helps if you have a knowlege of the other person and his music that way you know what will fit and what won't.
JazzReview: So it was just as important to know him as to know his music.
Brian Lynch: Well, I think that in this case it certainly helped a great deal. I know his music very well and we have collaborated before and I have done a lot of arranging and orchestrating for Eddie before, so I have an inside knowledge of him and his work.
JazzReview: When you do go in to record are you someone who likes to do a lot of takes or do you prefer to try and keep it more spontaneous?
Brian Lynch: I do not like a lot of takes from the solo stand point you have to try and strike a balance between the spontenaity and getting the technocol aspects of the arrangement right. You want it to be clean and if you do more takes you start to lose some of that , usually the solos are the best the first time out. Once in a while you can go to a third or fourth take and something special will come out of it. But normally its the first one or so that we go with. We were still learning some of the music as we were going into the studio and so you might want to do a rehersal take, and then with really expierenced players you may not want to do your solo, you just sort of lay back and see where things are going. Its different every time.
JazzReview: You said that some of the guys were complaining on the way in, well maybe not complaining, but saying, "Hey this is harder than it looked."
Brian Lynch: (laughs) I am used to it by now. There are some very complex parts to this music and when I did another Latin Jazz recording about a year before this one there were some complaints then to. I tend to write very detalied sort of like cellular types of melodies than can be tricky. I remeber Conrad Herwig who is vey good at giving you these little iconic statements said about one piece I had written that "this is probably the hardest thing ever written for the trombone". So I am used to it and in fact pulled things back a peg or two on this recording. I like music that has a balance between something that is really direct and something that has some interesting details.
JazzReview: So the complaints are in effect a compliment right?
Brian Lynch: On yeah , its all good hearted. And if the music is challenging, it makes you grow as an artist. You really work at your capacity. It all comes out in the final mix and then you can really hear it.
JazzReview: Do you try and of these numbers out before a live audience before you go into the studio to record them?
Brian Lynch: Well when I finally got the CD I had them send it to me in London where I was working at the time, and Conrad and myself went over to the nearest pub that had a sound system and had them play it so I could finally hear how the dang thing sounded. In terms of rehersing music however I feel that it is important to do that. If you play the music on a gig then you know exactly what is going on, much more than at a rehersal. So we did a sort of rehersal gig about a week or so before the recording. I was able to get some of the kinks out of my own head .
JazzReview: I see on the website that you also teach in addition to all of your recording and performing.
Brian Lynch: Yes. [Lynch teaches at New York University and at the North Netherlands Conservatory as well as conducting classes at the Stanford Jazz Workshop, the Eastman School of Music, Dartmouth university, University of North Texas and at Columbia University. I asked him if any of his students come in trying to sound like anyone in particular and if he thought that was a good idea.]
Brian Lynch: I think that it is important to try to sound like someone, especially in the early age of your development. As a means to an end, it is important to have someone to try and emulate. Besides it is really cool when you actually do it. You go, 'Yeah thats how it feels.' It helps. Jazz has to be your own self expression in the end though.
There can be no question that Brian Lynch has forged his own way and he has managed to find his own very unique sound. Be it as a sideman a composer and arranger or as the leader Brian Lynch is very much on the forefront of Jazz. He rembers something his one time mentor Art Blakely used to say, "You have got to go on a be a leader. It's easy to be a sideman ; it's very hard to be the leader. I'm ready" No doubt about it, Brian Lynch is ready.