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The Justin Brown Sessions ft/ special guest Mark Shim

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

$25 – $35
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Seating times: 7:00pm & 8:30. Doors open 30 minutes early.


JAZZ@theEDGE! Presents The Justin Brown Sessions

Justin Brown
Joe Cleveland (Bass)
Chris Fishman (Keys)
Mark Shim (saxophonist)

Bay-Area native Justin Brown was born and raised in Richmond, CA, in a musical family. His mother, Nona Brown, is a respected singer and pianist who worked for years with the gospel icon Edwin Hawkins. Brown attended Berkeley High School, where he was part of a crowd of young musicians who would eventually become pros (Jonathan Finlayson, Thomas Pridgen, Charles Altura). After quitting Juilliard, he tried one more time to find an academic setting that might work, enrolling in the Manhattan School of Music a year later. But just as the semester started, he got called to go on tour with Kenny Garrett, the primo alto saxophonist whose illustriuous career includes hallmark stints with Miles Davis and the Duke Ellington Orchestra. 

Today, at 34, he is one of the most highly regarded drummers in music. For many years, he has held down the drum chair for trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire and pianist Gerald Clayton, both childhood friends. Since 2014, Brown has been playing festivals and rock clubs around the world with Stephen Bruner, the bassist/vocalist known as Thundercat, oddball prince of modern-day fusion, who skates between jazz, hip-hop and psychedelia. (he also collaborates with Flying Lotus, Esperanza Spalding and Terence Blanchard, to name just a few.)

Frequent collaborator Ambrose Akinmusire describes playing with Mr. Brown in admiringly abstract terms. “It feels like you’re making music with an element. He feels like nature, he feels like water, like the earth,” he said. “What nature does, it just blows a little wind in your face, and that can mean that there’s a storm coming. The tide coming in means something. I think that’s something that he’s developed in his playing more recently.”

In 2018, Justin Brown released his debut album, Nyeusi (Swahili for “black”). The album includes 11 original compositions written during the past 10 years. Much of the album—featuring Jason Lindner and Fabian Almazan (both on keyboards), Mark Shim (electronic wind controller) and Burniss Earl Travis (bass)—was recorded in 2015. It would be too simple to call the record a hybrid of his work with Mr. Akinmusire and Mr. Bruner, though stylistically it does incorporate both Mr. Akinmusire’s flair for irresolution and the woozy, wafting ambrosia of Mr. Bruner’s music.

Mostly it’s a ringing testament to Mr. Brown’s own, unmapped path. Burniss Earl Travis’s fortified bass and the swarming force of Mr. Brown’s drums work as a kind of magnetic therapy, softening your senses and opening your ears.

The Black Cat Is Curious…
(9 questions, of course, with a bonus 10th)

1.  What things are inspiring your creative energy in this moment?

I’ve recently come off tour which was inspiring to travel and play music again for people. Breathing, family, being black, art and food keeps me inspired.

2.  What music have you been listening to recently?

Geri Allen, FireToolz, Música Urbana, Once and Future Band, anything with crazy drums(LOL)….etc

3.  What set you on your life’s path in music?

The Miles Davis 60s quintet, and seeing Dennis Chambers for the first time when I was 15.

4.  What artist (living or dead) would you like to share a stage with for one night, and why?

There are to many to people that are not with us anymore that I wish I could have made music with. Even the ones that are still here. There’s too many to name. I will say people who truly know me know that it was a dream of mine for many years to share the stage with Georgia Anne Muldrow and then BAM. I’m forever grateful for that.

5.  Your favorite vinyl is spinning.  What are you drinking?


6.  Likely there are many…but name one person/place/thing that has helped shape you as an artist?

Berkeley High School 1999-2002

7.  You get one album to take to your desert island.  Name it.

That’s too tough to answer.

8.  What is a musical or creative moment you’ll always remember?

Touring South America with Herbie Hancock

9.  We’re stoked to have you on stage at Black Cat!  What are you envisioning for your time with us?

Good Music and Pure Synergy.

10.  The Pandemic has affected all of us.  How has it affected both you personally and your music?

It has affected me in a lot of different ways and I empathize for the loss of so many lives. To say the least I never have taking life for granted. I do feel more in tune with my surroundings and want to continue to have compassion and empathy for the things that surround my life. good or bad.

When legendary vocalist Betty Carter asked saxophonist Mark Shim to join her band for a three month world tour in 1995, he became the first and only saxophonist that the iconic singer would ever utilize for an overseas tour. Remarkably, Shim was only 21 years of age at the time. Since that auspicious debut, Mark Shim has made an impact on the musical world with his unique brand of creativity and inventiveness.

Over the course of his twenty year career, Shim has recorded three albums for the prestigious Blue Note label, including the critically acclaimed Turbulent Flow. He has also had the honor of touring extensively with legendary drummer Elvin Jones in the last incarnation of his “Elvin Jones Jazz Machine” band, as well as with many other distinguished and influential artists, including Terence Blanchard, Terri Lyne Carrington, David Murray, and Vijay Iyer.

A native of Jamaica who came to the United States with his family when he was five, Shim began playing the saxophone at eleven years of age. He went on to study music at Virginia Commonwealth University and William Paterson University before plunging into the New York jazz scene where he currently resides and is highly sought-after as an educator and performer.


Wednesday, January 5, 2022
$25 – $35