Brian Lynch Songbook Vol. 1: Bus Stop Serenade
Label: Hollistic MusicWorks
Street Date: October 15, 2021

MULTI-GRAMMY® Award-winning trumpeter Brian Lynch's new recording on is the first in a series of “Songbooks” intended to reclaim the many original compositions that Lynch has recorded for other labels throughout his distinguished career as a recording artist. Bus Stop Serenade focuses on music originally composed between the mid 1990s through the mid 2000s, configured here for the classic quintet formation of Lynch on trumpet and flugelhorn along with longtime front line partner Jim Snidero on alto saxophone, the redoubtable creative Orrin Evans on piano, stalwart virtuoso Boris Kozlov on bass and the swingingly inventive Donald Edwards on drums. 

This quintet will be celebrating Bus Stop Serenade’s release with two very special club appearances on Friday, October 22 at the famed Deer Head Inn in Delaware Water Gap, PA, and on Saturday, October 23 at the famed Smalls Jazz Club in New York City  Lynch states: “The Deer Head Inn has a quite special place in my heart, having played there so many times with the great Phil Woods (the Quintet’s last album was recorded live there) and with my own groups. Having recorded this album in the Poconos (Red Rock Studio in Saylorsburg, PA), and having “prepped” the music on a gig at the Deer Head before the record date, playing for the release at The Deer Head is like coming home. Smalls is another special venue for me, where I’ve played often over the years with my own bands and always have enjoyed hanging out in the atmosphere of one of the most authentic jazz clubs left on the planet. Presenting the music from the album at these two sacred spaces is a perfect launch for this record.”

What provoked Lynch to re-record his old material? Brian explains: “I’m quite attached to all the tunes that I’ve written over the years, and have often felt that they would benefit from a little attention in the form of new versions that would introduce them to contemporary listeners who may not be familiar with my earlier work. Also, I seem to have become quite stubborn in recent years about invoking artistic self-determination for myself at every opportunity, and having masters of my complete catalogue in my possession has become a bit of an obsession. Accordingly, I have embarked on a quest to re-record for my own label Hollistic MusicWorks every single original tune of mine that was recorded on other labels between the beginnings of my recording career in the 1980s up to the last album I recorded outside HMW in 2010.  I will be releasing a series of “Songbook” albums, of which Bus Stop Serenade is the first volume, updating this body of work for a new generation of listeners as well as for those familiar with the original versions. I think, actually I KNOW, that these remakes will reflect favorably on the years that have passed and bear the most exacting scrutiny as both compositions and performances!”

Well put, and it is certainly evident that “invoking artistic self-determination” has reaped benefits for Lynch ever since his first fully self-produced and fully owned recording project, the breakout Grammy® Award winning The Brian Lynch-Eddie Palmieri Project: Simpático was released 15 years ago. The ambit of Lynch’s independent and artist-owned label Hollistic MusicWorks has been distinguished by many triumphs, including a 5-star Downbeat review for the label’s first release, Unsung Heroes; critical acclaim for Questioned Answer, which first introduced new piano star Emmet Cohen to wider recognition; a Grammy nomination (one of the very first for a independent artist-owned label) in 2016 for Madera Latino, celebrating the music of Woody Shaw with an all-star cast of trumpeters and Latin jazz aces; and most recently, Lynch’s second Grammy Award for 2019’s magisterial The Omni-American Book Club, his first big band album and a project inspired both by Brian’s love of reading and his lifelong passion for social justice.

The rewards of revisiting Lynch’s past oevure on this new album are plentiful. Whether the quintet is burning on swingers like 24/7Keep Your Circle Small, or On The Dot, hitting a Afro-Caribbean groove on such numbers as Afinque or Clairevoyance, or getting pensive and deep on the delicate Before The First Cup, Lynch and his all-star quintet bring a level of virtuosity, nuance and just pure vibe to these songs only hinted at in their original recordings. Jim Snidero’s probing alto sax stylings bring a new dimension to compositions recorded originally in quartet form, such as Charles Tolliver (a salute to the iconic trumpeter/composer) and the title track, Bus Stop Serenade. And the stellar work in solo and accompaniment of pianist Orrin Evans, bassist Boris Kozlov, and drummer Donald Edwards, along with the fearsome swing these three generate, transform all they touch into musical gold, notably Woody Shaw, a Lynch classic from the turn of the millennium and also a highlight of The Omni-American Book Club in big band form. 

As always, Lynch’s trumpet and flugelhorn never fails to excite, delight, and edify the listener, whether aficionado or causal newcomer to his sound. Brian’s exacting dedication to excellence on his chosen instrument, along with his oceanic comprehension of the many idioms that comprise his musical territory – and a good dose of a natural soul deepened by life, experience and loss – has resulted in his remaining at the top of the heap of today’s trumpeters and indeed, as he experiences it: “…playing the best that I ever have in my life at this point!”

A special note about the recording process and the resultant track list for this album, as Brian relates in his liner notes: “We cut this album in a single day in Kent and Lois Heckman’s beautiful Red Rock Studio out in the Poconos, after a warmup gig the night before at the famed Deer Head Inn. In order to get through all the material in time for the rhythm section to drive back to the city for their Saturday night gigs (boy, could we use some of those now), things had to move quickly. There wasn’t generally time for more than two takes of anything – a “warmup” first take that allowed us to get comfortable with the tune (we sometimes stretched out more on those) and then a second pass for the record. When I reviewed the session for mixing, to my surprise I found that so many of those first takes were special, along with the “real” takes being so outstanding, that it was exceedingly hard to make a choice. So I decided to include them all! On some tunes there’s a shorter “radio-friendly” and a longer “stretching out” version, and on other tunes the two takes are more or less uniform in length. I’ve organized the album itself as two “takes” of the program (“The Express Route” and “The Alternate Route”), with Keep Your Circle Small (the only tune represented as a single take) as the bridge between the two programs.” These “routes” correspond to each CD on the 2 CD physical version of the album; all tracks in both routes are included on the digital release.

A special aspect of Bus Stop Serenade is the design for both digital and CD presentations of this album. The unique line drawings of Robin D. Williams, executed using her signature “blind drawing” technique, and the contemporary yet classic package design from Jamie Breiwick combine to delight the eye every bit much as Bus Stop Serenade’s music delights the ear. For those who love artistry in both sight and sound, Bus Stop will be also released in a special edition, limited to 100 copies box set, featuring reproductions of Williams’ artwork from the album suitable for framing and a deluxe booklet to accompany the two CDs. 

Brian Lynch looks forward confidently to a positive reception of his “new wine, old bottles” project and the success of its first volume. Brian states: “This album will appeal to anyone who wants to experience through sound the bracing immediacy of gifted improvisers in flight, conversing with both the distinctive musical frames I’ve provided them and with each other. Whether on your device, in your car, or even sitting in your special listening room, Bus Stop Serenade will provide a satisfying musical journey worth taking, on either express or alternate routes.”

The Omni-American Book Club: My Journey Through Literature in Music
Label: Hollistic MusicWorks
Street Date: August 29, 2019 

One of the most ambitious projects of his long and illustrious career, The Omni-American Book Club is an expansive album of music for large ensemble (“big band”) composed and arranged by Lynch and featuring his work as soloist alongside an all star cast of special guests including Regina CarterDonald Harrison, NEA Jazz Master Dave Liebman, GRAMMY® Award winner Dafnis PrietoOrlando “Maraca” Valle, and Jim Snidero. 

On The Omni-American Book Club, subtitled My Journey Through Literature In Music, Lynch connects his lifelong passion for reading and the books that have shaped his life with his original music. The album’s title refers directly to one of those books, The Omni-Americans by the African-American writer Albert Murray, which Lynch first read in high school soon after its initial release in 1970. Producer Kabir Sehgal writes in his liner notes: “…(Murray’s) life-affirming commentaries and provocative essays on culture and society are insightful and evergreen. His writings have served as a foundational philosophy for the jazz intelligentsia and aficionados alike… Murray holds up a mirror to American society and calls out the powers that be.” And indeed, reading Murray’s book and absorbing his thesis that black American culture was central to the whole idea of America was a key event in the budding, but already sharply defined, social consciousness of the young Lynch, even as he found himself being inexorably drawn to the study and practice of black American and other Afro-diasporic musics as his life’s work.  

The books that have shaped Lynch’s consciousness, and thus his music, have been myriad, and his dedications for the music of The Omni-American Book Club reflect both the diversity and the focus of his reading interests. Alongside a strong emphasis on the work of African-American writers and writing on African-American culture, both classic and contemporary (Murray, W.E.B. DuBois, Ralph Ellison, Isabel Wilkerson, Ta-Nehisi Coates), Lynch’s reading interests range widely in the area of social consciousness and social justice, as reflected in shout outs to urban theorist Mike Davis and social activist Naomi Klein

Lynch’s voracious appetite for reading history is amply illustrated in dedications toDavid Levering Lewis, Eric Hobsbawm, and Nell Irwin Painter, and his interest in the realm where history connects to current events is shown in work linked to recent writings by historian Timothy Snyder and journalist/activist Masha Gessen. For Lynch, reading is “a means to fill in the blank spaces in the map of your world”, and his research over the years to deepen the understanding of the music that he is such an able practitioner of shows in dedications to Amiri Baraka, Robert Farris Thompson, A.B. Spellman and Ned Sublette. And rounding out a list of authors that, given the depth and breadth of Lynch’s bookworm instincts could never be more than partial, dedications to the seminal Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe and vulnerability researcher Brené Brown hint at still more facets of Lynch’s reading interests.

But what of the music that all these authors inspired, whether directly or indirectly? The nine compositions that make up The Omni-American Book Club offer a panoramic view of Lynch’s world as a composer, arranger and trumpet soloist in his first big band recording as a leader. Lynch’s pieces reveal new facets of a musical omnivorousness already well documented in his four decades of being at the forefront of the jazz and Latin music scenes. Besides works expanding on his well known (and Grammy-award winning) prowess in playing and writing both Afro-Caribbean jazz (“Crucible For Crisisfeaturing drummer/Grammy laureate Dafnis Prieto and virtuoso flautist Orlando “Maraca” Valle, and “Affective Affinitiesfeaturing violinist Regina Carter), and “straight-ahead” swingers inspired by his tenure as a young man in the legendary bands of Art Blakey and Horace Silver (“Tribute To Blue”, featuring alto saxophonist Jim Snidero, and “Woody Shaw”), Lynch casts his musical net even wider on The Omni-American Book Club. 

Hip hop, trap and funk influences are deftly blended with sonorous brass choirs and shouting full band passages on “The Struggle Is In Your Name”, featuring New Orleans icon and frequent Lynch collaborator, saxophonist Donald “Big Chief” Harrison. Reggaeton beats and salsa grooves coexist with massed horns, dissonant counterpoint and snaking solo lines in “Inevitability and Eternity”. Swing and Latin rhythms seamlessly coexist in the company of virtuosic band work and the keening soprano sax of NEA Jazz Master Dave Liebman on “The Trouble With Elysium.”Percussion comes to the fore on the evocative, multi-hued “Africa My Land”, and another Lynch chart that delights in the application of pleasing orchestral pastels, “Opening Up”, is by turns delicate and driving as the mood shifts from bossa to angular cha-cha grooves. The music of The Omni-American Book Club represents the most realized and accomplished expression of Lynch’s vision as a composer to date. 

The magic is made by the stellar big band that Lynch assembled for this project. This challenging music is expertly executed by an ensemble comprising Lynch’s teaching colleagues, students and recent alumni of The Frost School Of Music, University Of Miami, where Lynch has been a professor of Studio Music and Jazz since 2011, along with a selection of  world class musicians gracing the Miami area. Both in ensemble and solo work, their efforts and dedication to Lynch’s compositions resulted in the realization of his music to the highest order, and is a testament to the vibrancy of musical life in the South Florida region and in one of the world’s premier music schools – The Frost School Of Music. Recorded by Chris Palowitch in the Frost School’s state of the art L. Austin Weeks Center for Recording and Performance, and mixed and mastered by famed engineer Dave Darlington (winner of a Grammy for his work with on Lynch’s 2006 award winner Simpático), this album is a feast for the ears and a sonic delight.

Tying all the music together is the sound of Lynch’s trumpet. His focused and versatile facility on the instrument and expansive improvising lexicon sets him apart on the contemporary jazz landscape. His achievement in crafting an individual and recognizable voice from many influences, and utilizing that voice in many diverse playing contexts ranging from Eddie Palmieri to Phil Woods and even Prince, are reflected in his consistent presence in the jazz polls and on the lists of top trumpeters, including an award as Trumpeter Of The Year by The Jazz Journalists Association in 2017. But perhaps in the performance of his own original work one can most fully hear both the true accomplishment and the continued promise of Lynch’s work as an improvising trumpet player. Lynch stated his intentions to journalist Ted Panken for a Downbeat profile a few years ago: “…to blend everything together into something that has integrity and sounds good.  Not to sound like a pastiche or shifting styles; but like someone with a lot of range and understanding.” His playing on The Omni-American Book Club is one of the most complete expressions of this laudable goal that he’s yet achieved.

Art by Robin D. Williams

For Brian Lynch Songbook Vol. 1: Bus Stop Serenade

LAST ROW MUSIC
Read the album announcement here, as well as the October 22 Deer Head Inn performance announcement here and the October 23 Smalls Jazz Club performance announcement here.

 
 
 

For The Omni-American Book Club: My Journey Through Literature in Music

GEORGE KANZLER
NEW YORK CITY JAZZ RECORD
"This is music full of flair and brio, played with sharp precision and packed with inspiring solos as well as exciting, full-tilt ensemble passages. Lynch has certain stylistic tropes and gestures that carry from."
Read the full feature here.

 

AMANDA M. PEREZ
THE U 
Read the full feature here.

TRAVIS FIELDS
WLNR 
"Along with paying tribute to some of his favorite authors, his first big-band project gave Lynch an opportunity to work with some of his favorite musicians. Longtime colleagues such as saxophonists Donald Harrison and Jim Snidero, drummer and UM professor Dafnis Prieto and flutist Orlando “Maraca” Valle joined esteemed musicians such as violinist Regina Carter and National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master saxophonist David Liebman to bring Lynch’s music to life." Read the full feature here.

JOHN WHITE
JAZZ JOURNAL 
"An accompanying illustrated booklet with delightful caricatures by Robin D. Williams also contains Lynch’s memories of his literary inspiration for every title. It could stand as a basic introduction to African-American history and present-day international race relations. But this enthralling and moving music also speaks for itself, and will definitely constitute one of my records of the year." Read the full review here.

 

FELIPE FREITAS
JAZZ TRAIL
"Brian Lynch, a Grammy award winning artist, has brought a new burning charisma to the Latin jazz genre, raising consciousness through a colorful consolidation of diverse musical cultures."  Review here

BOB WEINBERG
JAZZIZ
"It’s no accident that African-American thinkers feature prominently on his syllabus; his interest in their writing was sparked by a desire to find out more about the culture that created the music he loves." Review here

MIKE HOBART
FINANCIAL TIMES
"Trumpeter Brian Lynch's literature-inspired The Omni-American Book Club, released on Hollistic MusicWorks fuels the dynamic shifts and layers of brass with Latin Jazz and the occasional foray into modern jazz swing. Tracks are substantial, solos meaty, and the ensemble supple and tight. The experienced Brian Lynch is an engaging soloist with a neat balance of thoughtful lines and climactic highs."  Read the full article here.

RICHARD KAMINS
STEP TEMPEST
"There's so much music (nearly two hours over two CDs) on "The Omni-American Book Club", such a good ensemble, impressive writing, first-class soloists, and a reminder American music has deep roots in the numerous communities around the country and the world. The blend of blues, jazz, funk, Latin, Afro-Cuban, and more is so attractive plus the distinctive trumpet sounds and attack of Brian Lynch is powerful and so alive.  Highly recommended!!" Read the full review here

BOB WEINBERG
JAZZIZ
"It’s no accident that African-American thinkers feature prominently on his syllabus; his interest in their writing was sparked by a desire to find out more about the culture that created the music he loves." Review here

JACK BOWERS
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
"As a paradigm of Lynch's level-headed assessment of the world in which we live, The Omni-American Book Club is superb; as a repository of emphatic, straight-from-the-heart big-band jazz, it's even better." Review here

ED ENRIGHT
DOWNBEAT
"The music captivates as unrelenting grooves, sparkling ensemble interplay and ripping solos take the listener on an exhilarating thrill-ride inspired by fearless intellectuals whose written works have had a life-changing effect on this socially conscious bandleader." Review here

JIM HYNES
GLIDE MAGAZINE
BEST OF 2019 
"This is an exciting big band album, one of the most fully realized you’ll hear this year or any year." Read the full review here

JEFF KROW
AUDIOPHILE AUDITION
"This Brian Lynch project should elicit fascination as to how Lynch’s exploration of major African American writers have led to his stature as a musician and composer. One can easily see how this CD project could be used in an historical African American literature class." Read the full review here.

MAL STANLEY
ABC.NET.AU JAZZ
"The American musician joins a host of heavyweight players on 'The Omni-American Book Club' - featuring tunes that connect his love of literature to music."  Read the full feature here.

SEB HELARY
NEXTBOP
Q&A Feature here

YVES SPORTIS
JAZZ HOT (FR)
"beautiful, very direct music, sophisticated without being hermetic or elitist..." Read the full French review here