Rochester, N.Y. – Nov. 12, 2017
If you can imagine an organ player influenced by Bach, Deep Purple and ship-to-shore radio broadcasts, Brian Charette is your guy.
Charette plays the Hammond B-3 organ, and he’ll be performing tonight at Bop Shop Records with drummer Jordan Young and Rochester guitarist Bob Sneider.
Charette is also a classical pianist with an affinity for Bach and improvising fugue. His compositions are imbued with elements of world music – folk music from Hungary, Slovakia and Moravia; gypsy influences; and Hindustani devices and scales and rhythmic patterns.
“In the beginning, I was a heavy-metal guitar player, so it all has this haze of Deep Purple over it.”
All these influences converge to lead Charette – who has released albums on the Posi-Tone and SteepleChase labels – to his latest self-released project, Kürrent, with guitarist Ben Monder and percussionist Jordan Young.
Charette has been touring the eastern U.S. lately in support of Kürrent, and we caught up with him recently in Cincinnati. We started off talking about the kinds of music he listens to when he’s on the road.
“I listen to the most flaccid, Americana soft rock that ever was made. I think they call it Yacht Rock.”
Like Christopher Cross, Hall and Oates, Rupert Holmes?
“OK, not exclusively. I listen to everything. I very much like unusual, minimalistic music.
“I do like Deep Purple and Iron Maiden.” The list twists: AC/DC, America, Ambrosia, songs from the ’70s, Barbra Streisand.
“I’m very into a rock band called Hiatus Kaiyote. And we were listening to Aphex Twin the other day. Sometimes I’ll listen to found sound music, which is a big component of Kürrent: electronic instruments that kind of misfire or create random noises.”
The beautiful intensity of Kürrent becomes apparent when Charette talks about ship-to-shore stations, on the old transistor radios.
“When I was a kid, you would tune in the ship-to-shore station and it would just be radio frequencies in the atmosphere. The music would be very random, with bleeps and blips, but I would hear it as harmony.”
The trio Kürrent has worked those kinds of sounds – with a variety of instruments, some virtual – into the band.
“We’ll listen to what the machines are doing and we will very quickly try to fill in our harmony around the instruments.”
All that weirdness, Charette says, steers clear of the avant-garde. The band members’ orientation as traditional jazz/classical musicians usually keeps them grounded.
“All of this kind of randomness, what we’re trying to do – and I think this is what makes us different from a lot of other groups – we’re not trying to go more out with it. We’re trying to steer these ‘out’ elements into very ‘inside,’ pretty-sounding compositions.
“It’s very improvisatory. And it’s almost like a fugue – if each voice in the fugue would be an electronic instrument that’s misfiring.”
Charette acknowledges that it is very risky music. The electronics often create a riveting experience where nobody really knows what’s going to happen next.
“I’ve never heard anything that sounds like this before. But that’s what we’re trying to do: We’re trying to make sounds that no one has ever heard before.
“I’ve never been more excited to play music than when I play with this group.”
– Jann Nyffeler for Bop Shop Records
Brian Charette brings his trio to Bop Shop Records tonight, Sunday, Nov. 12, at 8 p.m. Admission is $15 at the door, $10 for students. Bop Shop Records is at 1460 Monroe Avenue in Brighton, New York. Questions? Call (585) 271-3354.