Brian Buchanan is an established and respected Canadian jazz pianist, composer and music educator. Brian began his career as a bandleader in the early 1980s by leading his own jazz ensembles. He is both an artist and entrepreneur and works to create opportunities to perform, record and market his music while striving to maintain professional integrity in the industry.
As a player, Brian is well versed in the traditions of jazz music, from which he has developed his own style and sound that takes him far beyond the roots of the idiom. His technical acumen is noteworthy and his sound delightfully textural, often combining complex harmonies and thematic improvisations on a wide range of melodic based music. Whether playing solo piano, or in an ensemble, the space he creates defines the composition at hand.
Brian’s repertoire is a diverse collection of material he has nurtured over time which includes his own compositions, a wealth of Great American Songbook standards, some choice Pop tunes and a comprehensive sampling of Jazz and Latin classics from many of the great contributors to the jazz art form. He also sits comfortably in the pocket playing blues and rhythm and blues music.
His recordings are a beautiful blend of the master’s voices along with his own, equally deep and complex, they are expressive of the man himself. The players he chooses are thoughtfully selected for their insight into the composition and overall sound. Listen to his Avenues or Soulstice recording projects for a glimpse into the depth and clarity of his musical vision. These releases feature him alongside world class artists including Phil Dwyer, Bob Tildesley, Don Thompson, Dave Young, Jim Vivian, Billy Drummond and others.
In demand for his arranging ideas, he intuitively draws out the uniqueness of the performer he writes for. He has directed and managed many recording projects including CBC radio shows that feature his musical arrangements. An example of this skill is the recording Brian Buchanan Ensemble Plays the Music of Dennis van Westerborg that was developed from a group of musical snippets whistled by the ‘composer’ into a cassette player. Brian crafted them into complete compositional arrangements that fairly represent the originator. He then put together an ensemble of some of Alberta’s finest jazz players including Kent Sangster, Sandro Dominelli and Mike Lent to best express his musical vision on the recording.
The intimate conversation between a singer and pianist is based on a solid knowledge of the music, in listening to the others musical voice, and having the trust to step out into uncharted improvisational territory. Embracing these intuitive qualities as an accompanist, Brian has worked with many fine vocalists over the years including Clarence “Big” Miller, Mark Murphy, Sheila Jordan and Cindy McLeod.
Brian is well known for contributing to the jazz scene and cultural community in a profound and everlasting way, helping establish numerous jazz clubs in Calgary Canada, consistently employing and contracting musicians and working as President and managing director of the Jazz Calgary Society. This work included promoting, presenting and often performing with legendary artists such as Clark Terry, Johnny Griffin, Herb Ellis, Freddie Hubbard, Dee Daniels, P.J. Perry, Fraser MacPherson, Bob Stroup, Sam Noto and many other established Canadian and International performers.
As a music educator Brian has worked nurturing and developing young musicians, several who’ve gone on to become established artists, sustaining, growing and representing the collective musical voice of Canada.
In recent years he has been featured in concert as a solo pianist and leading his own ensembles. This includes a weekend at Canada’s oldest jazz club, the ‘Yardbird Suite’ in Edmonton, Alberta as part of the ‘Best of Alberta’ jazz series in 2015. Concerts in Vancouver in 2014 and 2015, tours on Vancouver Island with his trio in 2016 and in a quartet with jazz guitarist Mike Rud in 2018, and concerts in Calgary at the Ironwood Stage and Grill and Cathedral Church of Redeemer as part of the 2018 International Jazz Week. Between 2014 and 2017 he worked on a contract basis with Norwegian Cruise Lines out of New York City as a Bandmaster, Bandleader and Pianist. Currently Brian is the resident pianist at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge in Jasper Alberta.
Notable career accomplishments include a feature 1997 Shaw Cable video for Project Discovery, hosting BET on Jazz Cable Network shows from Western Canadian jazz festivals, an Alberta Recording Industry nomination for Jazz Album of the Year in 1994, grants from Alberta Foundation to the Arts and Factor, and a position as Music Director with Disney Cruise Lines. He has been featured on live and studio recordings for CBC Radio programs Jazz Beat, Tonic and Alberta Music.
May we all continue to benefit from Brian’s continued contributions as a composer, performer, recording artist, music educator and presenter.