Program Notes – Gold Coast Jazz Series May 8, 2024

Brian Lynch Quintet

Brian Lynch – trumpet, flugelhorn, leader 

Marcus Strickland – tenor saxophone

Martin Bejerano – piano

Chuck Bergeron – bass

Jacob Smith – drums

Welcome to the show! Tonight’s performance with this wonderful all-star band will feature a program taken from albums released or upcoming on my Hollistic MusicWorks label. A plurality comes from the two albums released to date in my Songbook series, where I reclaim my original compositions released on other labels throughout my career in new and improved renditions. Selections from my “Unsung Heroes” project, saluting under appreciated trumpeters that have influenced me, and music from two upcoming releases (my 7x7by7 project, out in late summer, and an upcoming big band continuation of the Songbook series) round out tonight’s program. 

As a youngster, my first efforts at composing music consisted of nothing more than plunking on the family piano, fantasizing that I was performing some sort of amazing original work. It was only later, when I started to study music in earnest, and my musicianship developed to the point where I could write notes and rests reliably down on music paper, that I actually started to compose. 

Two things got my composing going in earnest: my ear developing to the point where I could take things off of records, and thus be able to transcribe my favorite sounds for both performance and study purposes; and acquiring enough basic piano skills to be able to work with harmony in a consistent manner, enabling me to find the chords and connections that I wanted to hear. Then I was ready to write tunes, at first emulating the sounds of my musical heroes and then slowly finding a style of my own within the typical forms of the idiom. I always thought that writing originals (and arranging other pieces in one’s own distinctive “treatment”) was an essential part of being a good musician and certainly required if one had an ambition as a bandleader or recording artist. 

By the time I arrived in New York City as a young trumpeter I was well on my way to possessing a portfolio of original small group compositions suitable for performance and recording, reflecting my musical influences, conducive to improvisation and even possessed of (or so I hoped) a certain amount of distinctiveness and even originality. These were the same qualities that I strove to have in my playing. I wanted my music to challenge me as a trumpet player and improviser, and often material for my tunes would come out of work on improvisation during my trumpet practice sessions.

At a certain point in this long journey in music, composing took on a more sustained fascination for me, and I developed a desire to extend my reach towards larger forces and forms. My expanding musical universe over the years has also given me more influences and sounds to charge my composing palette. But the core of my compositional “style”, if I even have one, are in the sort of quirky little tunes that I’ve written over more than 40 years now, and will be presenting to you tonight. 

Brian Lynch

About The Music

At The Main Event – Originally recorded on the Criss Cross label on the album of the same name, this tune salutes a legendary jazz club in my home town of Milwaukee that was a frequent haunt in my formative years. A big band version of this tune will be a part of the next volume of my Songbook series.

Before The First Cup – from the last of my four albums on the Sharp Nine label, the quartet date Brian Lynch Meets Bill Charlap from 2003. A tribute to the early morning hour, or in some cases minutes, before the espresso machine starts up.

Terra Firma Irma – The only non-original composition in tonight’s program. This tune, written by the great trumpeter Joe Gordon, was the opening track from my Unsung Heroes album from 2010, the first release from my own Hollistic MusicWorks label. 

En El Camino Plateado (On The Silver Road) – one of two compositions on tonight’s show from my upcoming release 7x7by7. The title celebrates my time touring (1982-85) with the great Horace Silver, one of my first significant professional associations and a most cherished time in my life.

Woody Shaw – A product of 2000’s Tribute To The Trumpet Masters quartet session on the Sharp Nine label. Originally written for a Phil Woods Quintet gig at the old Iridium club in NYC, I was proud of the way this tune came out back then and it seems to have endured – it’s fun to play on and captures the essence of my love for the great trumpeter very well, I think. This tune has been re-recorded in multiple versions over the intervening years; in quintet form on Songbook Vol. 1: Bus Stop Serenade and expanded into a big band chart for my Grammy Award winning album The Omni-American Book Club.

Dance The Way U Want To – Written originally for the At The Main Event album back in 1993, this tune has been a robust part of my repertoire over the years. It’s been re-recorded numerous by myself and other groups I’ve been associated with such as the Phil Woods Quintet. Most recently, it’s appeared at the title track on my recent album Songbook Vol. 2: Dance The Way You Want To on Hollistic MusicWorks.

Keep Your Circle Small – This tune was the title track of my first release for the Sharp Nine label back in 1994, and was re-recorded on Brian Lynch Songbook Vol. 1: Bus Stop Serenade. This song’s title is a tribute to the wit and wisdom of a colorful figure from my youth, hometown (Milwaukee) organist and club owner (of the legendary Space Lounge) Vernon Yancey. 

RoditiSamba – originally recorded on my Unsung Heroes album. Dedicated to mentor, friend and artist supreme, the late, great Brazillian trumpeter Claudio Roditi. 

Greeting On 87th Street – From my upcoming 7x7by7 album. A fond reference to the early days of the courtship of my wife Marissa in New York City. 

Unsung Blues – We will close tonight’s show with another original from the Unsung Heroes project. Dedicated to all of us in the trenches keeping this great art form alive!


Music From Tonight’s Show On Bandcamp (digital downloads and signed CDs)

Unsung Heroes (Terra Firma Irma, RoditiSamba, Unsung Blues)

Songbook Vol. 1: Bus Stop Serenade (Woody Shaw, Before The First Cup, Keep Your Circle Small)

Songbook Vol. 2: Dance The Way U Want To (Dance The Way U Want To)

Check out all the Hollistic MusicWorks releases by Brian Lynch and other fine artists here:

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