Brian Culbertson: Blurring the Genre Lines

Brian Culbertson, an extraordinary jazz musician who plays keyboard and trombone, has throughout the years been able to bridge the gap between Jazz, Funk and R&B. Throughout his thirteenth album reign, Brian has been able to collaborate with R&B artists such as Vivian Green, Noel Gourdin and Stokley Williams from Mint Condition on his new album Dreams. Brian’s connection to his instruments and constantly blurring the genre lines is a blueprint for up and coming artists in all genres especially R&B, Funk and Jazz. Brian Culbertson took time out from his busy touring schedule to chat with Singersroom about love, wine, marriage, scotch and most importantly, the music.

The PRINCE is in the House… Prince is a very cool guy. Don’t believe all the stories. Okay, so check this out … I was cool with this saxophonist named Mike Philly. He was linked with Prince and they were having one of their infamous late night jam sessions that went from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. in the morning at 3121 in Las Vegas. So we are at the jam session and I’m playing the trombone. I was bringing out my inner Fred Wesley LOL. Prince had just came in quietly… real cool. He was literally four feet in front of me as I played… I was freaking out (inside). I was playing it off and just being cool like it was nothing. He motions to Mike and they went outside to talk. Mike comes back and whispers in my ear, “Prince likes you. You can stay.” He (Prince) ended up being really cool and wanted to hang out. When you meet Prince you don’t know what it’s going to be like. We were jamming for a while. That was the night that inspired me to do my Funk album. I also met Larry Graham, who further helped to inspire me to do my Funk album. (Larry was a bass guitarist who was part of Sly & The Family Stone and also the founder of Graham Central Station.)

Thinking of A Master Plan… I have been talking about my next record and throwing around some ideas. I might do a party jam record with a rapper. I was hanging out with Bootsie Collins and Snoop. I like Snoop because he has that not taking himself so seriously type of attitude. It makes his music fun. That would be crazy to get him involved. I’m going to make the call.

Defining Diva… It started with the opera singers that thought they were the $#IT. They demanded everything. It refers to women at the top, but it always had this bad connotation. The opera singers would have to call the manager to call the car company to talk to the driver to have the AC lowered. That’s the type of stuff the opera singers did. Crazy stuff, but that’s a true story. However, the term has crossed over into the Pop and R&B world and it has become positive.

Guilty Pleasures… There are many great wines. I like Cabernet. There is a region in Napa Valley called Oakville that has amazing Cabernet. It’s crazy that there are so many regions within Napa Valley which all produce distinctive taste. Scotch Oban year fourteen is also one of my guilty pleasures. Give me a couple ice cubs and my Scotch Oban and I’m good. We went to Scotland and we got a serious education out there. Its similar to wine, you can tell the different regions. Espresso is another thing I absolutely love. I even went as far as finding a guy from Italy that hand makes espresso machines. I experiment with the beans just to get that perfect taste.

Live… It’s a combination of playing the music, getting lost in the music and paying attention to the audience’s reaction from night to night. Every night will be different so the show will be different. If they are in a relaxed mood, I might give them a nice slow jam. If I feel that we need to pick it up, I will switch a song or may jam longer on a song. I’ll make the band go BOW to add excitement!

Touring… It’s been quit a busy year. I’ve been on tour with David Sanborn. I was a young musician listening to him now I’m on the road sharing the stage with him. We were able to create a show together which is amazing. We are both playing how we play and letting each other do what we do. It’s an interesting mix. It’s great for the audience because they get a new sound. I loss touch of reality on the road because it’s like this serial world. You forget about the reality because you’re constantly traveling. I don’t know if I like it or don’t like it. It’s this real limbo state but I do love being on stage.

The Perfect Date… My wife and I had an anniversary in Napa Valley one year and I came up with the idea to do a festival. We were driving around, hanging out and I said “it’s awesome out here.” I had done some gigs there, but I realized there were no jazz concerts. It’s chill and cool. I’m working on an Annual Napa Valley Wine & Jazz Festival. The first was last month in June. We are setting up for next year. This year we had Sinbad host and come out playing the guitar. We had Kenny Lattimore and Noel Gordon performs also. It was a great experience. I’m looking at a Jazz, R&B and Funk blend for next year. It’s cool because we’re bringing couples to check out jazz music, wineries, art galleries, intimate Q&A’s with musicians and jam sessions all in one experience. We’re having chefs doing cooking demonstration also. You can wine taste at an art gallery with your favorite musician playing. We sold out the festival in one week. This year we are going to expand it. We will have payment plans and packages similar to a cruise. This festival is different from other music festivals because its more about the lifestyle. You can’t beat that.

Marriage… It’s great to have someone you can bounce ideas off of. There is a sense of roundedness I get from being with my wife… I would be lost. When I’m home and we’re together it just feels right. We been together for a long time and in October we would have been married for fifteen years. She’s really encouraging. I can be at home working on a record the whole day and she’ll be off doing her own thing. You got to find that special person that fits you. When I talk to young musician I tell them to find someone that understands that lifestyle.

What You Eat… I had granola and yogurt with espresso. But I only get that when I’m at home. When I’m on the road I’ll pick up anything like eggs or a cinnamon bun.

If There Was No Music… The only thing I was interested in was architecture. My grandfather was a civil engineer and he built bridges. My mother was a drafter so we had the drafting tables in the house. When I got in to the higher Math I realized that maybe this architecture thing wasn’t going to work. LOL! I can’t imagine not being a musician. It’s a part of who I am.