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Bryan Corbett

Photograph courtesy of Bryan Corbett

When Jazzwise put together a list of ‘who to look out for in 2008’, Alex Webb from the Barbican proposed two trumpeters – Sue Richardson and Bryan Corbett. Alex commented: ‘Not the newest kid on the block, but trumpeter Bryan Corbett deserves wider recognition for a great sound, stage presence and sense of purpose’.

Click here for a video of Bryan playing Softly As In A Morning Sunrise in 2008.

Brian was born in Bromyard, near Hereford, England in 1974, and his father, musician Stuart Corbett, first bought his son a trumpet when Bryan was six. Leaving Hereford’s Sixth Form College, Bryan went to Liverpool’s L.I.H.E (Hope University) but spent some of his time at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. This was a general music course where Bryan was classically trained, and he joined various youth orchestras and wind bands playing principle trumpet with the National Children Wind Orchestra and the InternationPhoto of young Bryan Corbettal Youth Wind Orchestra.


Photograph by Karl Stubbs
Courtesy of Bryan Corbett

But as a teenager, Bryan really wanted to be a sportsman He told Kenny Matheson for Jazzwise: ‘All through my teens I wanted to be a professional sportsman. Cricket and football were all I had my eyes on. After university the fact of having to find a proper job raised its head, and I drifted into music. I had done all my grades and diplomas and so forth, but there was always a bit of jazz in there from my dad, and that was really the fun side of music for me’.

The ‘bit of jazz’ included playing with the college and university big bands and gigging with his father who plays piano, saxes and clarinet but who is now more involved in education, working at the London College of Music and writing the jazz syllabus.

On leaving university, Bryan moved to Birmingham where for three years he worked as Head of Brass for Musical Instrument Repairs and Sales, a shop that specialises in the repair and re-conditioning of brass and woodwind instruments. It was a good position in that over the time he was there he got to see and try every kind of horn and made key contacts that would prove useful in his career.

Speaking with Martin Longley of Jazz Review, Bryan described how he formed his first quintet: ‘Initially, I used guitar, drums, bass, saxophone and trumpet. The saxophone player then left to go on the ships. I replaced him with another sax player called Mark Overton, who left to do the UB40 world tour, and then I decided to add Levi French on Fender Rhodes (electric piano) and piano, rather than getting another front line’.

The Quintet recorded two sessions in 2000, 'Funk In The Deep Freeze' and 'Simply Blue'.

For the last six months before it closed, Bryan had the house band residency at Birmingham Ronnie Scott’s club, but then moved to Ty’s Bar and Restaurant. Ty Mahmood, as well as running a Kashmiri curry restaurant in Birmingham was also committed to supporting live jazz, and bands performed at the restaurant five nights a week. Ty also ran a recording studio and record label from the premises.
Photo of Bryan Corbett

Bryan became the music manager and sound engineer at Ty’s Jazz and Spice, moved in, and led his own quartet playing there. Martin Longley noted that conveniently Bryan was able to play a gig until the early hours, retire to his flat, and roll out of bed into the studio for an all-day recording session.

Photograph courtesy of Bryan Corbett

Photo of Bryan Corbett Quartet


He told Kenny Matheson for Jazzwise: ‘I put the quartet together at the stall of last year. The quintet had pretty much run its course by then, and was getting a little bit stale. These guys play together a lot anyway, and are good friends of mine, so it came together pretty easy. They are all very creative and don’t need to have everything tightly arranged and set down for them. You can give them an idea and they will make something happen.

The Bryan Corbett Quartet
Photo courtesy of Bryan Corbett


So what is Bryan’s playing like? In 2003, Sholto Byrnes in the Independent’s ‘Talking Jazz’ described him as ‘a trumpeter and flugelhornist with a warm lyrical tone, a formidable technique and, in the higher registers, a semi-plastic stridency reminiscent of Freddie Hubbard’.

‘His band, which with the Rhodes and guitar has echoes of the semi-electric line-ups Creed Taylor assembled in the 1970s, has a confident approach, they swing well, and sound like they believe in themselves…. It’s rare to be excited by a player whose legend has yet to reach beyond his own lunch break. So: remember the name of Bryan Corbett’.

In 2003, the album 'Corbenova' was issued. Bryan said to Kenny Matheson: ‘The Corbenova project was really aimed at bringing both jazz and my music to a younger audience, and it has done that for me. It got me radio play and a higher profile, and I enjoyed working with a different group of people using the computer set-up’.

Bryan went on: ‘ …I take great pride in my trumpet sound, and I wanted to preserve it. Maybe I will move into electronics in a future project, but at this stage it was getting my sound across in a natural way …The crossover approach of Miles, and Freddie Hubbard has been a big influence in the material I am doing now. It’s putting more modern beats behind most of the drum samples on disc, other than a drum machine, and I think you really feel that difference’.

In July 2004, Ty’s closed and Bryan moved on: ‘There was a great venue called Ty’s Jazz and Spice, but there was no support for it. There was enough to keep me here at that time, but at the moment I’d have to say if anything, it is going the other way.’ The Quartet made a live recording at Sheffield’s One Eleven Club. James Griffith’s review for the Guardian noted: ‘The band stick mostly to oldies by such composers as Stanley Turrentine and Victor Young, yet they Photo of Bryan Corbettbring enough freshness to the material to suggest that they are simply making them up on the spot’.

In 2005, Bryan and Levi French were recorded ‘Live at Symphony Hall’. Bryan said: ‘Levi French is very much on the same wavelength as me when it comes to melody and music language, and he has the Fender Rhodes as well when we need that funkier sound’. Another album ‘Pressure Valve’ (available from Amazon) was also released.

In 2007, Bryan received the Jerwood Rising Star award (Cheltenham International Jazz Festival). He was also awarded a Fellowship at the London College of Music (jazz – trumpet), and issued an album of his own recordings under the title ‘Off The Cuff’.

The performance of the Quartet - Bryan Corbett (trumpet and flugelhorn), Levi French (keyboards), Ben Markland (bass) and Neil Bullock (drums) was reviewed at the Cheltenham Festival: ‘French’s lovely ballad ‘Precious’ featured an unaccompanied piano intro and Corbett’s velvety tones on flugelhorn…. ‘O.M.F.H.’ was a dedication to Freddie Hubbard. With it’s funk rhythms the music drew on Hubbard’s fusion period of the seventies, particularly I suspect Hubbard’s ‘Red Clay’ …. Corbett’s trumpet playing was inspired and French contributed a wonderfully funky Rhodes solo’.

In March 2008, Bryan played at the Vortex with guitarists Deidre Cartwright, bassist Alison Rayner and drummer Mike Pickering. Chris Parker’s review said: ‘Corbett grasped the opportunity with both hands, subjecting the likes of ‘Angel Eyes’, ‘Softly As In A Morning Sunrise’ and the Horace Silver classic ‘ Song For My Father’ to thorough workouts in which he demonstrated all his strengths .. a spearing, pure tone tellingly interspersed with the odd growl or smear; a surefooted improvisational gift that enables him to exploit every last melodic and rhythmic possibility he plays with just the right amount of wit and panache’.

The last three years have seen Bryan venture into Europe performing at festivals and clubs. He has toured with the Polish funk unit 'Funk de Nite', and with Czech bass player Pavel Jacub Ryba and the 'Mind The Step Band'. He has toured throughout Europe with ' Us3' and although still a member, the band is not performing again until 2009.

Bryan said: 'My own quartet is performing more theatre, festivals and good club dates, although this has meant less gigs, they have been better gigs. I want to develop my original numbers with the band and record a new Quartet album, maybe with special guests.'

'The future is getting tougher, finding the outlets to perform is tough for any musician, and the process of promoting yourself is not ideal and very exhausting when you want to concentrate on playing. It's also very hard to find agents in the jazz field. It would be great to push for a deal of some kind so I could work on the music and not the financial constraints of trying to make it happen.'

'I look forward to touring again with Us3 in 2009 and to more work in Europe as a soloist and special guest artist. I hope to involve 'Funk de Nite' in a tour of the UK and I would love to do some more music with the BBC Orchestra if given the opportunity'. (Bryan recently performed as a solist with them).

'In this game, who knows what could be next!'

Well, next was Bryan's 2013 album Green with Chris Dodd. It was good to have Bryan Corbett back with an album, and this recording with multi-instrumentalist Chris Dodd put down a marker for more good things things to come.

Bryan met Chris Dodd when they were both members of Us3 and the album was initially going to be called The Journeymen to reflect the band's extensive touring across Europe and Asia (Bryan plays regularly with the Polish band Funk de Nite in Poland). Bryan says: Bryan Corbett Chris Dodd album Green'On a two-day break back in the UK, we set about writing and recording a couple of tunes for fun. One of these tunes is the opening piece. Post touring, we played, wrote and recorded a lot of music together. During the mid course of our recording sessions some very serious life experiences would influence us both dramatically and go on to inspire this album.' Part of those experiences included Bryan taking time out through illness and surgery, but he has recently finished a UK tour with Soul legends Ben E. King and Jimmy James and has played at the Krakow Jazz Festival with Funk de Nite. He tells me: 'My chops are great and fresh. I feel like I have a new lease of life and am stronger than before.'

This album, Green, backs that up, but for me the album is particularly remarkable in that it features just two musicians who show that you can produce a good album if you have talent and can use technology economically and considerately. This album will appeal to many listeners.

On the album, Bryan plays trumpet, flugelhorn and flute. Chris plays bass, drums, piano and keyboards. But the appeal of the compositions and the effective way the mix has been achieved make you think that here is a larger band. Chris and Bryan toured in 2014 on a coveted Jazz Services sponsored programme with Mark Fletcher on drums and Sean Hargreaves playing bass.


Here is an introduction to the album where you can sample the music.




Looking beyond the tour, Bryan said: 'I hope to return to the studio to complete some unfinished projects with colleagues and to start writing some new material. Chris and myself already have numerous new tracks and old ones to revisit that did not make the Green album'.

Click here for more details and samples of Green.

In 2015, Bryan released a new Quartet album, available through Bryan's website at www.bryancorbett.co.uk. Bryan says: 'It is a live recording from 'Fleece Jazz' earlier this year. I think it captures the quartet - myself, Al Gurr, Neil Bullock and Ben Markland very well and has some really magical moments. Its best part of 10 years since the Quartet put out a recording and people always ask for what they just heard. So here it is. It's a double CD as there is too much for a single and I did not want to split up the recording.'


Click here for Bryan and the Quartet playing Try A Little Tenderness .


Bryan’s own website can be found at www.bryancorbett.co.uk, or www.myspace.com/bryanleecorbett.

Details of future gigs can be found on Bryan’s website where you can also contact Bryan for information about buying his CDs.

Bryan is supported by Taylor Trumpets

© Sandy Brown Jazz 2008 - 2015


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