Born: October 4, 1948 Primary Instrument: Organ, Hammond B3
Organist/Pianist Gary Brunotte performs his own brand of lyrical jazz, influenced by the tradition but in his own personal voice. Born and raised in a small town in Minnesota, he remembers, “My uncle played accordion, was self-taught and performed in the Navy band. In addition, my stepfather played guitar and my other uncles all played instruments. I started taking accordion lessons when I was nine.” He debuted as a professional musician at a New Year's Eve job when he was 11, switched to organ and performed with r and b and rock and roll bands as a teenager. “I discovered jazz after listening to Brasil '66 and Blood, Sweat and Tears. I particularly enjoyed Howard Roberts' records of the period and Jimmy Smith.” After graduating from college, Brunotte attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, switched to piano, and taught at the prestigious school for three years. He moved to Manhattan in 1980. “I worked for a period at Rodney Dangerfield's comedy club. The jazz trio would open a set and there would be a different singer each week before the comedian came out. It was fun for a time.” During this period, he won a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to write a suite for a big band and his orchestra performed once a week in a mid-town club. After living and working in the Hudson Valley area, Brunotte spent 1987-97 back in Minnesota. “I played a lot of gigs at local jazz clubs and restaurants. I also recorded my first CD, Yesterday's Dream for the Altenburgh label.”
Yesterday's Dream, which features Gary Brunotte with altoist Eric Marienthal in a quintet setting, introduces nine of his melodic originals. The CD received excellent reviews in both JazzTimes and Billboard. In addition, it received airplay throughout the United States and Europe and remained on the Gavin Chart Bound list for 8 weeks straight. In 1997 he and his wife relocated to North Carolina where he has worked steadily ever since. “Since moving here, I have recorded the duo CD Conversations with bassist Rick Jones and the trio CD Smile with drummer Bill Berg and bassist Steve Haines plus I have done a lot of gigging, from little restaurants to backing major names at concerts including Mark Whitfield and Byron Stripling.”
Brunotte recorded his fourth CD, Manic Moments which features Gary on organ and piano. Teamed, on most selections, with drummer Bill Berg and guitarist Scott Sawyer, Brunotte performs such invigorating originals as “Manic Moments,” “Bridgemix,” and “Slightly Blued” along with standards including “You and the Night and the Music,” “Mas Que Nada,” “The Peacocks” and “That All.”
In recent times Gary recorded a fifth CD, About Time, with former Berklee classmates Gian Wiegner and John Lockwood. Released in fall of 2008, the CD successfully made it on the Jazz Week Charts and received both national and international airplay. He also graduated with a Master of Music - Jazz Studies degree from North Carolina Central University.
Gary Brunotte, who looks forward to teaching, recording, and touring in the future, is an accessible and creative jazz performer whose music is well worth exploring.
Awards:National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) 1981 - Grant to write a Big Band Suite, performed by the Herb Pomeroy Orchestra
This is a swinging straight ahead group that lopes along gracefully with a big musical stick in hand.
'Mas Que Nada' Cool solo by Brunotte at the organ and the steady unruffled beat of drummer Bill Berg drives this tune like a Rolls Royce. I'm not going to get the jewelers loop out on this one, simply put It grooves
To listen to a no frills recording with solid musicians, you can't go wrong with this album. 4 Stars
JAZZTIMES Magazine (1993) Brunotte is a crisp, indeed, intelligent player whose charts sizzle and yet leave plenty of space for inspired soloing . . . tres musical.
JAZZTIMES Magazine (2006) Any jazz person will appreciate Brunotte's crisp, tasteful, witty, lyrical elaborations upon his original themes . . .
ALL ABOUT JAZZ (November 2007) ... Manic Moments succeeds at being original through Brunotte's imaginative composing and arranging. Most notably the title track, an original up-tempo blues with a Blood, Sweat and Tears-type horn intro, and 'Mas Que Nada,' the Jorge Ben Brazilian classic, featuring the Durham Children's Choir.
While the primary focus of the disc is Brunotte's organ playing, he also displays his prowess as a pianist ('You and the Night and the Music'), accordionist ('Sometime') and vocalist ('Agua de Beber'). Regardless of instrument, his approach is aggressive and commanding, yet sensitive to the spontaneity of the other musicians. His organ solos move from ultra-greasy ('Thats All') to Larry Young-inspired intricacy ('Slightly Blue')...
NEWS & OBSERVER (2007) Gary Brunotte's 'Manic Moments' (Sincopato Records) is a rather pleasant affair with Latin grooves, swing and jazz-rock dominating the rhythms... The group eschews the classic, funky, Jimmy Smith organ trio approach in favor of more subtle grooves and a more romantic mood.
JazzReview.com - by Bill Falconer (2008) - Guitarist Gian Wiegner and organist Gary Brunotte met at Berklee, played gigs in Boston, and then went their own ways, still friends, but separated by geography. Recently, they recorded together in a home-and-away reunion... When you meet up with an old friend for the first time in years you pick up right where you left off and the conversation flows easily. That's true of musical conversations as well. The resulting CD, About Time, combines fine musicianship with an upbeat attitude.
Wiegner and Brunotte have written accessible and interesting compositions which make up most of the tracks. Their solos are creative, their comping sensitive, and you can feel the quartet's rapport... I really like About Time.
Year Released 1993
Year Released 2005
Year Released 2006
Year Released 2007
Year Released 2008
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Organ, Hammond B3
Willing to teach:
Advanced students only.
Berklee College of Music - Instructor 1977 - 1980
1990 - Clinics on using Finale music software