Kari-On Productions is proud to introduce
Jason Lee Bruns & Kevin Bachelder
Kevin Bachelder (b. November 6th 1972 Conroe, TX) is a singer, composer, and arranger. He grew up in Springville, UT as the son of two professional musicians; his Father a trombonist and Mother a piano teacher. As early as the age of five Kevin began performing with his parents and siblings all while hearing the likes of Eric Dolphy, John Coltrane, and Miles Davis on vinyl.
Kevin spent his early years playing the trumpet though singing always came naturally to him as well. It wasn’t until college that he decided to focus solely on his voice as a primary instrument of expression, though you can still catch a cameo of him on trumpet from time to time. Kevin further developed his passion for music by earning a bachelor’s in Music from Berklee and a master’s in Jazz Studies from USC.
Over a 25-year career Kevin has sung vocals for hundreds of projects including major artists: David Bowie, Wayne Shorter, and Steve Miller. For the better part of a decade Kevin has resided in Newport Beach, CA with his wife and two kids where he performs regularly with top local and national acts.
Jason Lee Bruns (b. October 3rd 1979, Coldwater, Ohio) is an American percussionist, arranger, producer, and bandleader specializing in Jazz, Brazilian, and Cuban styles. He has performed in the bands of major artists including: Beck, Louis Price (The Temptations), and Liane Carroll (2x BBC Jazz Award Winner), and at top L.A. venues including: the Disney Hall, House of Blues, Herb Alpert’s Vibrato, the E-Spot Lounge, and Catalina Jazz Club.
Jason holds a bachelor’s of Music (Miami University), a master’s in Jazz Studies (University of Southern California), performer’s certificates from the Mangueira Samba School (Brazil) and the International Folklore Laboratory (Cuba), as well as a master’s in Audio Production (Berklee). He studied drum set under Terri Lyne Carrington, Peter Erskine and Aaron Serfaty.
Jason is a member of the American Federation of Musicians (Local 47), BMI, a voting member of the Recording Academy, and the Percussive Arts Society - where his method on reading rhythms was published. Cherry Avenue is Jason’s seventh self-produced recording on his label, Panout Music Group, with the one preceding it, Live at Catalina Jazz Club, peaking at #8 on the CMJ Top 40 Jazz Charts.
When Jason Lee Bruns first asked me to write the liner notes for his new CD, Cherry Avenue, recorded with singer Kevin Bachelder, my first reaction was, “Ah, a jazz odd couple.” I knew Jason Lee as a drummer/percussionist with an irresistible groove, and Kevin as a vocal artist with a gift for telling a captivating musical story. And my question was whether this potential jazz world Oscar and Felix duo could find a way to blend their strong individual characteristics into a productive partnership of jointly expressive creativity.
Well, there’s no cliffhanger on the answer to that query. It won’t take hearing more than one or two tracks from this compelling program of songs to illustrate how effectively Kevin and Jason Lee combined their artistic musical visions. If they had any Oscar and Felix differences of musical opinion along the way, they were completely transformed into compatible and adventurous conclusions.
How did they do it? The right way. As Jason Lee and Kevin made clear to me, they did so by finding the common ground between each of their individual territories.
Start with the way in which Jason Lee’s groove, in all its colorful manifestations, provides the perfect setting for each song. Consider, for example: the Cuban son rhythms of “Autumn Leaves”; the simmering samba of “Waters of March”; the seemingly unlikely Afro Brazilian afoxé groove applied to John Lennon’s “Dear Prudence”; the bossa nova of “Like Someone in Love”; the jaunty New Orleans second line drive of “Ain’t No Sunshine”; and the blues shuffle of the title track “Cherry Avenue.”
Making the most of those energized rhythmic settings, Kevin’s vocals are vividly alive, his warm mid-range and soaring head tones finding the inner stories within the lyrics of every song in a perfect creative partnership. The interaction, on every track, has the dynamic intensity of a live performance, enhanced by the lush, full spectrum of sound recorded and mixed for the album by Rich Breen.
Another vital aspect of Cherry Avenue, further underscoring the persuasive musical togetherness of the Bruns/Bachelder creative partnership, traces to the arrangements. In a jazz world rarity, both Jason Lee and Kevin are trained musicians and arrangers, recalling the equally rare orchestration skills of such predecessors as drummer Louie Bellson and singer Mel Torme.
Writing for the relatively modest instrumentation of three horns (trumpet, saxophones/clarinet, and trombone), guitar, piano, bass and drums, both Jason Lee and Kevin devised a far reaching, colorful array of timbres and textures. On many of the tunes they employ a stunningly effective small band version of a big band sound, often calling up convincing similarities to the classic, hard-hitting qualities of Blood, Sweat & Tears.
Both Jason Lee and Kevin are too musically sophisticated, however, to be locked into any single stylistic setting. And, on the opening tune, “My Romance,” Kevin’s arrangement immediately establishes the sort of varied setting that characterizes the balance of the album. Starting with Kevin’s jaunty vocal, primarily backed by Jason Lee’s brisk drumming, the music drives to a muscular horn-driven climax announcing what to expect from this gifted duo and their musicians.
The B,S&T-like prominence of the horns returns in other tunes – “Dear Prudence,” “Send In The Clowns,” “Like Someone In Love” and “It Didn’t Work Out That Way” among them.
Additional highlights trace directly to the further arrangement ideas of Jason Lee and Kevin, which often enhance a variety of settings by featuring soloists around the vocals. Listen, for example to the subtle piano backing of Daniel Szabo on “I Fall In Love Too Easily,” the riffing juxtaposition of Kevin’s scatting and Ron Blake’s trumpet work on “Autumn Leaves,” the atmospheric guitar of Brazilian Angelo Metz on “Waters of March,” Kim Richmond’s clarinet on “Like Someone In Love,” Jacques Voyemant’s trombone on “Ain’t No Sunshine,” Brandon Fields’ tenor saxophone on “Cherry Avenue.”
There’s more to praise in the songs that Jason Lee Bruns and Kevin Bachelder have found or written, arranged and performed for Cherry Avenue. But the music ultimately speaks for itself. And it remains for listeners to simply sit back and enjoy the numerous pleasures of this memorable album.
The International Review of Music
Track and (Time)
- 1. My Romance (3:17)
- 2. Autumn Leaves (4:07)
- 3. I Fall in Love Too Easily (4:29)
- 4. Waters of March(4:03)
- 5. Dear Prudence (3:44)
- 6. Send in the Clowns (4:07)
- 7. Like Someone in Love (3:55)
- 8. It Didn’t Workout That Way (5:47)
- 9. Ain’t No Sunshine (3:29)
- 10. Cherry Avenue (3:48)
Player and instrument:
- Kevin Bachelder – vocals, trumpet (#4)
- Daniel Szabo – piano
- Angelo Metz – guitars
- Ron Blake – trumpet, flügelhorn
- Kim Richmond – soprano sax, alto sax, clarinet
- Jacques Voyemant - trombone
- Edwin Livingston – upright acoustic bass
- Jason Lee Bruns – drum set, bandleader
- Brandon Fields - tenor sax (#10)