Brian Culbertson, 20 Plus Years of Creating Music
Headlines The 28th Annual Long Beach Jazz Festival
By Patrick Harris
[dropcap size=small]B[/dropcap]rian Culbertson in his 20 plus years of creating music for the world to enjoy has 27 number one hits as a musician, songwriter and producer. In a recent interview, Culbertson spoke about his musical beginnings, musical influences and his dedication to the music he loves to sustain his position as one of the leading figures in Smooth Jazz.
ULM: What made you realize that music was your path?
BC: Every time I sat down to play and write music and anything with it I got excited about it. Nothing else did that for me. It became apparent really early for me that it was definitely my path. All I wanted to do was play and write. Even in Jr. High school I started writing my own tunes and creating tracks way back then. I was one of the first generation of kids to grow up with the new MIDI technology and computers, the early Macintosh coming on the scene. I was about 12 when I actually start working on that stuff. It was exciting times.
ULM: What has been the key to the longevity of your success?
BC: I’m always striving to get better, and never being satisfied I guess. Pushing the live show forward. The band. Daily I’m retooling things and trying to make it better and better every single day…I think you have to do that and still be genuinely excited about it. It’s the way I feel, having that integrity to keep pushing and pushing yourself as well.
ULM: I know you grew up in the Midwest; with the Midwest being a hotbed of R & B during the late 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, what were your musical influences outside the realm of jazz?
BC: I was a major Earth Wind and Fire fan as so many people were and a lot of band that were in a similar category as them…Chicago, Blood Sweat and Tears, Tower of Power all those kinda horn bands. That’s what I called them Horn Bands because they had so much cool horn section stuff going on. Especially me being a horn player, I kinda gravitated towards that. The mix of pop, R & B and funk with jazz influence. All those bands had jazz influence as well.
ULM: Can you talk a little bit about you picking up the trombone and how that factors into your music today?
BC: It’s definitely a big part of my music, I guess being a big fan of the horn bands really is an influence. You’ll hear horns on all of my records. I’m playing in the section on all those records, in many cases during the arrangements or arranging with other people. It’s a cool sound that not everyone uses, especially live these days; I’ve got a 3 piece section when I pick up my horn and hearing that live, there is nothing like it. It’s so exciting and it adds that extra “over the top” especially with the trumpet blazing up there on top.
ULM: As a veteran performer at the Long Beach Jazz Festival, what makes the event so special?
BC: You know it’s interesting, I think it has to do with so many people who are huge fans of the music are just crammed into this park. Everyone wants to get in, everyone is excited, they know the music, they know the artists. To me it’s about the feeling from stage, what you’re getting from that audience. Sometimes you go out and play and there is a big audience there is a feeling that is a little disconnected sometimes. Every time we play the Long Beach Jazz Festival, people are going bananas out there and that us as performers on stage more excited, and more into the show, more into the performance. I’m really looking forward to being back there and we’ll have a fun time.
ULM: On August 8th when you’re scheduled to perform (28th Annual Long Beach Jazz Festival), what can the audience expect from that performance?
BC: That night I’m going to just come out blazing. We’re going to hit it hard and have a party time. We’re going to have a great time.