The Brubakers to perform at Brick Street Tavern
By Sarah Hall
The Brubakers will be making a rare local appearance this week, playing their smooth, contemporary jazz Halloween night at Brick Street Tavern.
These Salisbury-area musicians may be one of our city’s best-kept musical secrets, but they’ve made an impact on Charlotte’s jazz scene, playing Spirit Square, Halton Theater, The Visulite, numerous clubs, the Charlotte Verve Jazz Fest and seven concert appearances with the Charlotte Symphony.
The Brubakers have opened shows for Ken Navaro, Nicholas Peyton, Larry Carlton The Sapphire Blues Band, Adam Nitti, and recently, sax sensation Boney James. Their sound has been compared to Yellowjackets-and they’ve opened for that group as well.
Their name is a merged homage to two jazz greats: Dave Brubeck and Chet Baker.
The challenge of balancing day jobs and families with performing and recording explains why they have only put out three albums in their 14 years as a band. But their new CD, “Triple Bypass,” was worth the wait.
Guitarist Alex Bost, from Rockwell, laughs when asked about the CD’s title track, saying that “when throwing around names, ‘triple bypass’ was a way of poking fun at ourselves, since we’re all getting older.”
But then the discovery of public domain art for the cover, picturing three tiers of highway bridges, took the meaning in a different direction.
With the Brubakers, titles normally follow the tunes rather than vice versa. All of the band members contribute to composition, discovering motives and melodies, then collaborating with band members to bring their musical seeds to fruition. Then they name the creation.
Bost is listed as composer of five out of the dozen instrumentals on Triple Bypass, including the title track. He has been a performing guitarist for over 35 years. He recorded and mixed the CD with Brubaker drummer Gray Fallin at Woodleaf Studios (located at Fallin’s home).
This is not your typical home studio recording, though. The recording quality is indistinguishable from recordings from bigger studios. Its urbane and uptown sound is delightfully surprising, juxtaposed with the album’s rural birthplace.
Fallin has been a drummer for 30 years, performing a variety of styles, including the subtle jazz artistry he displays on the current recording.
Eddie Ritch plays keyboards with shades of Keith Emerson and Herbie Hancock combined with his own liberated style. With 35 years performing experience, he is confident and comfortable whether providing fills or taking the lead. He is the only Charlottean in the group.
Salisbury musician Joe Gminder, bass guitarist for The Brubakers, is the most classically-trained of the band. He studied piano and viola at Elon College, and French horn and classical guitar at Emmanuel College. He has spent 35 years performing all sorts of styles.
Rick Almond of Albemarle holds a degree in music education from Pfeiffer University and has been playing saxophone for over 30 years. His versatility is apparent on the CD which calls for him to play anything from wailing sax to delicate flute.
Carlton Jackson, of Salisbury, rounds out the group on percussion. He was introduced to Latin instruments, especially congas, at an early age and has been performing a variety of musical styles for over 35 years.
This Saturday, The Brubakers will be playing instrumentals from Triple Bypass and also their earlier recordings. They will also bring out some cover tunes with the help of a special guest, vocalist Lonnie Carpenter.
So if you want to have a good time and hear some great tunes, don’t “bypass” Brick Street Tavern this Saturday.
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The Brubakers are performing for Brick Street Tavern’s Halloween party this Saturday from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., at 122 E. Fisher St.
For more information, visit www.thebrubakers.net or www.thebrickstreettavern.com.