Born: April 18 Primary Instrument: Piano
Kathy Brown M.D. pianist, composer, bandleader, recording artist
KathyBrown, standout Jamaican pianist, jazz instrumentalist and medical doctor, routinely captivates audiences with pleasing jazz arrangements and delightful piano riffs, whether performing solo or as leader of the Kathy Brown Band.
The April birth musician, who, incidentally, has an academic familiarity with the French language, plays the piano with verve or, as the French says, joie de vivre, with energy and love of life. And, the rave reviews corroborate these sentiments.
For instance, American Christopher Porter, writing in the reputable Jazz Times, described the pianist's 20-minutes performance at Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival in this manner. “The multitalented Dr. Kathy Brown, a jazz and reggae pianist, played a really fun but too-short set, mostly consisting of standards such as Caravan” and “Afro Blue”.
Two years later, on the same international festival, on a night headlined by American contemporary jazz vibist Roy Ayers, Jamaican Gleaner writer Adrian Frater noted, “Although not attracting top billing, it was the charismatic and musically charged Dr. Kathy Brown who stole the spotlight as the 2007 Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival ended its two-night stopover at the Half Moon Shopping Centre in Montego Bay”.
En route to Jamaica’s biggest jazz festivals, inclusive of the Ocho Rios International Jazz Festival and Port Royal Music Festival, the pulchritudinous pianist made regular stops at smaller shows and venues, for instance, the Jamaica Pegasus’ Jazz in the Gardens and Jazz on the Green series, Red Bones Blues Café, Christopher’s Jazz Cafe and others.
The jazzy medical doctor’ s musical journey took her into the recording theatres of some veritable Jamaican studios, including Marley's Tuff Gong, where, after a succession of setbacks and a near miscarriage owing to a crashed computer disc, she delivered the labour-intensive first CD aptly named Mission: A Musical Journey.
The 9-track CD features clever interpretations of great works of jazz and reggae standards, including Herbie Hancock's Maiden Voyage and Bob Marley/Peter Tosh’s Get Up, Stand Up. But, it also contains Brown's own compositions, Mission and Latin Groove.
Kathy Brown’s CD, according to a Jamaica Gleaner review, captures many of the influences on her personal journey from the classical and folk music she heard at home [in the early days] through to the African and Latin music that stocks her ever-growing CD collection.
Year ago she walked into the Phillip Sherlock Centre for Creative Arts on the University on the West Indies (UWI) campus in Kingston, Jamaica and heard jazz for the first time, Since Jill Gibson, master piano tutor at the Jamaica School of Music, imparted to her the rudiments of jazz piano, Brown whet her awareness listening intently to master craftsmen like Bob James, Joe Sample, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock’s earlier works, Chucho Valdes, countryman Monty Alexander, Kenny Barron, Antonio Carlos Jobim, and Michel Camilo.
Kathy Brown, who founded her jazz band, Kathy Brown & Friends, in March 2002, categorizes her style of music as World [Beat]; music that people anywhere can appreciate. She makes the point, “ It is not just jazz, reggae or pure anything, it is true crossover that reaches out to different music style, and [so] people around the world will most certainly appreciate it”.
A longtime staple on the Jamaican jazz circuit, the multi-genre pianist, from the outset, envisioned doing live performances beyond her island shores. “I am more about live performing [and] for this reason I want to take my music outside of Jamaica to places like New York, Canada, Europe, Japan and Africa”.
That intense desire to perform overseas had its debut on August 5, 2007 when the Jamaican jazz pianist gave a scintillating one-hour performance at the Island Soul Festival at Harbourfront Centre in downtown Toronto, Canada.
Then, broadcaster Ken Stowar, host of Global Rhythm on University of Toronto radio station CIUT 89.5 FM, in a live radio broadcast/webcast during the performance, described Kathy Brown's 60-minutes set succinctly, “A wonderful one-hour performance”. The CIUT program director added, “Everyone seemed to have been listening very intently… they were paying extra close attention to Dr. Brown”.
In the USA, she has honoured dates at Bistro Soleil at the Olde Marco Inn on Marco Island, Naples, Florida, Ponty’s Bistro Restaurant & Bar in Manhattan, New York and plays WDNA 88.9FM Fine Arts concert series at the radio station's Jazz Gallery in Miami. Dr. KathyBrown is unwavered in making a name outside of homeland Jamaica.
At age 5, little Katherine Brown, the daughter of University lecturers, was relentlessly deluged with classical and folk music at home in mid-island Jamaica. Then, she was already singing and whistling tunes before tiny fingers pattered the unignorable family piano.
“I grew up in a home where the sound of music was ever-present, on tapes, on LPs and you hear your father playing [piano] downstairs, and older sisters were also playing”. Almost naturally, the little girl sidled to the piano and began to play by ear even before being signed up for lessons in classical piano.
Growing up, that insatiable drive to master the instrument led Brown to pursue music as elective in High School (Jamaica) Ivy League College (USA) and during her medical studies at the University of the West Indies. Quick to differentiate between the medical and music careers, the tenacious jazzy doctor has definitively defined her music and sound.
“My music is definitively a crossover between jazz and indigenous forms of music whether it is reggae, Latin and afro-Brazilian styles”. Yet, it is as a consummate jazz pianist, with or without her Friends band, that she shines brightest, evidence by the rave response of the Jamaican audiences and the media.
Kathy Brown, whose resumé includes opening for international acts Roy Ayres and John Secada at the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival, has shared stage with Jamaica’s great guitarist Ernest Ranglin, famed trumpeter Mickey Hanson, Japanese multi-reedist Hiroaki Honshuku, and veteran bassist, producer Glen Browne.
Apart from North America, her musical journey has taken her to South America to participate in a folk-classic music presentation with a classical pianist in Paramaribo, Suriname. She has had performances in the Caribbean twin-island of Antigua & Barbuda and Cayman Islands but, to date, performing on the Jazz and Music Festival of the other Caribbean territories, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, Tobago, Barbados remains destinations and gigs yet unaccomplished.
Wearing her choir trainer hat, the Jamaican pianist accompanied the Nexus Performing Arts Choir to the 2008 World Choir Games in Graz, Austria where she seized upon an opportunity to delight a worldwide audience with her signature brand of contemporary jazz.
Supplementary to Brown’s solo gigs are two constant companions, the Kurzweil K2500X and her Roland KC-500 amplifier that provide musical karma to many a corporate, weddings and other social events in Jamaica.
Extra-curricular to making a living as pianist and medical doctor, Dr. Kathy Brown pro bono in a multifunctional role as a musician, arranger and singer with the highly acclaimed University Singers and, simultaneously, as an assistant trainer with East Queen Street Baptist and Nexus Performing Arts choirs.
Initially self-taught in reading and playing 'by ear', Kathy studied classical piano up to grade 6 (Royal School of Music, England). Later taking intermittent classes in jazz piano after completing her medical degree.
Pianist extraordinaire Dr Kathy Brown displayed her unmistakable dynamic blend of passionate keyboard artistry synchronising with frenzied high-energy drumming from Desi Jones, along with his friends, Denver Smith on congas, Peter James on keyboard and Dale Haslam on bass. In the various expositions, they engaged a great deal of improvisation and instrumentation which were elastic.
Dr Brown's skill, coupled with her desire to please her audience, displayed a most sophisticated style of playing and a type of delicacy towards refinement which earned her some well- deserved applause from the highly appreciated audience. Her take on the Wailers' Get Up, Stand Up, was superb.
Dr. Kathy Brown releases first album
By ROLAND HENRY Sunday Observer Staff reporter
Music is her medicine, or so it seems.
“Being a full-time musician and a part time doctor simply means there’s never a dull moment,” writes pianist, Dr. Katherine ‘Kathy’ Brown in her liner notes on her recently released first album, Mission: A Musical Journey.
The work is primarily a collection of instrumental tracks • save two that feature minimal vocals by jazz performer Toni Anderson • which are, for the most part, deft arrangements with surprising twists.
The nine-track album opens with a cover of bob Marley’s Get Up, Stand Up, a blend of strings and percussions that heightens toward the end with a drum solo by Deleon White.
Kathy Brown completes album 'Mission' published: Sunday | September 30, 2007 Mel Cooke, Freelance Writer
Pianist Kathy Brown's debut album Mission: A Musical Journey is appropriately entitled in more ways than one. For one, it captures many of the influences on her personal musical journey from the classical and folk music she heard at home in Mandeville through to the African and Latin rhythms which reached out and grabbed her from record stores in the United States.
And, making the nine-track instrumental album was a journey in itself, a voyage into production waters which she first dipped her fingers in three years ago...... Now that the mission has been accomplished Brown says I feel relieved. I feel grateful for this product. Not because I have talent means it would have got this far.
Being actually pleased with the entire album is another matter, though, as she says Kathy Brown is a perfectionist, so it is very hard for me to be excited about my own music. I am glad for what it is
Dr Kathy Brown, pianist keyboardist extraordinnaire, thrilled Christopher's Café last Tuesday.
Dr Kathy Brown, a fixture on the jazz scene, did not disappoint either, showing poise and ease in her delivery, stirring the audience with the sounds of Summertime, Marley's Get Up Stand Up, Mission and Afro Blue and leaving them fully satisfied.- Jamaica Observer (Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival 2007
Jazz fest gets medical treatment
published: Friday | January 26, 2007
Adrian Frater, News Editor
GLEANER WESTERN BUREAU:
Although not attracting top billing, it was the charismatic and musically charged Dr. Kathy Brown who stole the spotlight on Wednesday night as the 2007 Air Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival ended its two-night stopover in the scenic theatre at the Half Moon Shopping Centre, Montego Bay.
With brilliant support coming from famed drummer Desi Jones, top-flight bassist Ian Hoilett and master percussionist Denver Smith, who also played congo drums; Dr. Brown was almost therapeutic in her delivery as she drew prolonged applause from the small but appreciative audience.
Mission: A Musical Journey
Get Up, Stand Up; Flintstone; Latin Groove; Grandfather (Ntate Moholo; Mission; Could You Be Loved; Rasta Journey; Maiden Voyage; Summertime.
Personnel: Kathy Brown: Kurzweil, Yamaha PIANO, Sherwayne Thompson, Aeion Hoilett, Donald Waugh: BASS, Desi Jones, DeLeon White: DRUMS, Denver Smith: PERCUSSIONS, Keith Hanson, Djenne Greaves: CONGAS, Toni Anderson: VOCALS. Note: Summertime was recorded live at the Jamaica Pegasus' Jazz in The Garden series (2003)
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Roland KC-500 amplifier