Born: August 9, 1975 Primary Instrument: Oud
Brian Prunka emigrated to New York from the tiny nation-state of New Orleans in the year twenty-aught-three. He had spent the previous decade honing his musical skills in the Home Of Jazz and ingesting what he could of the local culture. Originally from Newtown, CT, Brian grew up in the cultural wasteland of Miami, FL during its well known Vice era. Equally proficient on both guitar and oud, Brian composes and performs jazz and middle-eastern influenced music with his own projects (such as the Near East River Ensemble) and with musicians such as Michael Bates and Simon Shaheen. Brian returned to New Orleans in 2008 to teach jazz guitar at Loyola University and to pursue various music projects with Simon Lott, Michael Jenner, Tim Green, and Helen Gillet among others. In 2009, he moved back to New York. He currently performs with Nashaz, The New York Arabic Orchestra, Simon Shaheen and others.
Awards:New York City Department of Cultural Affairs/Brooklyn Arts Council Grant, 2008
Tracks: Hijaz Nashaz, Khartoum, Andalus, Qassabji's Nightmare, City of Sand, Jurjinah, Al-Ghayb, ‘Ajam
Personnel: Brian Prunka, oud; Kenny Warren, trumpet; Nathan Herrera, alto sax, alto flute, bass clarinet; Apostolos Sideris, bass; George Mel, frame drum, cajon, udu, snare drum, cymbal, shaker, pandeiro; Vin Scialla, riq
In Praise of Shadows
Tracks: Aztec; The Thief and the Dog; Rain; Go; Aria; Sleep; Aegri Somnia; Habanera; Night; The Thief and the Dog, Reprise Pt. I; The Thief and the Dog, Reprise Pt. II; Agitprop.
Personnel: Brian Prunka: guitar, oud. Matt Rhody: violin. Tommy Sciple: bass. Mark DiFlorio: drums.
Mahfouz (limited-edition EP)
Tracks: Jurjinah, City of Sand, 'Ajam, Seven Nahawand, Kurd
Personnel: Brian Prunka: oud. Michael Jenner: saxophone. Bob Garrett: trumpet. James Clark: percussion. Tommy Sciple: bass. Mark DiFlorio: drums
As a Side Musician:
Personnel: Olivier Bou: vocals, baritone and tenor sax. Nicholas Payton: trumpet. Matt Lemmler: piano, melodica. Charlie Dennard: hammond organ. Jonathan Lefcoski: piano. Brian Prunka: guitar. Steve Masakowski: guitar Brian Seeger: guitar. Mark Anderson: bass. Mark DiFlorio: drums. Stanton Moore: drums. John Fraboni: drums,
The Michael Jenner Group
Peronnel: Michael Jenner: tenor sax. Tommy Sciple: bass. Brian Prunka: guitar. Mark DiFlorio: drums. Jesse Lewis: guitar. Simon Lott: drums. Brian Seeger: pedal steel guitar. Andrew McLean: tabla. Brian Coogan: Fender Rhodes.
Instrumental Arrangements from Eritrea
Personnel: Yonas Ghirmay: piano. Brian Prunka: guitar, oud, arranger. Michael Jenner: saxophone. Matt Rhody: violin. Andy Wolf: baby bass. Michael Skinkus: bata, congas. Jason Marsalis: drums.
Live at Lotus
Personnel: Ghaida Hinnawi: vocals. Sami Abu Shumays: violin, rababa, vocals. Brian Prunka: oud. Bridget Robbins: nay. Aaron Paige: percussion. Nikolai Ruskin: percussion, mizmar, vocals
Christmas Joy (2010)
The John Mahoney Big Band
Tracks: Joy to the World; Silent Night; Santa Claus Is Coming to Town; O Come, O Come Emmanuel; O Little Town of Bethlehem; Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming; Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow.
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Willing to teach:
Advanced students only.
Former jazz guitar instructor at Loyola University, Brian is accepting beginning to advanced students on guitar and oud.
B.M. Loyola University 1997
M.M. University of New Orleans 2001
Arabic Arts Institute Arabic Music Retreat: Summer 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2011
Banff International Jazz and Creative Music Workshop, 2006
Studied jazz with Steve Masakowski, Ed Petersen, Michael Pellera, Johnny Vidacovich
Studied oud and Arabic music with Simon Shaheen, Bassam Saba, Ali Jihad Racy, Najib Shaheen
Adjunct Professor, Loyola University, F2008-S2009
Teaches jazz guitar, jazz combo
Adjunct Professor, Delgado Community College, S2001-S2003
Taught music theory, jazz guitar, group guitar, jazz theory, music appreciation
Clinics may focus on technical issues, odd-meter improvisation, microtonal music/Arabic music (including concepts for improvisation), as well as more general jazz performance workshops dealing with theory, and ways to approach improvisation.
Ouds: 1924 Shukri al-Mulki (Syria), 1998 Viken Najarian, 1932 Nahat modified by Najib Shaheen.
Buzuq: 2007 Ibrahim Sukkar (Syria)