About Brett Gold




Brett Gold has pursued an unusual path to Dreaming Big, his first big band recording with The Brett Gold New York Jazz Orchestra.  Born in 1956 and raised in Pikesville, MD, a suburb of Baltimore, Brett began studying trombone in elementary school, and quickly reached a level of proficiency that enabled him to play with a hand-selected nationwide student classical orchestra at Washington, D.C.'s Kennedy Center.  But his life changed forever when he discovered the music of Charlie Parker and the world of jazz.

Taking the advice of his trombone teacher, however, who suggested to Brett that if there was anything else he could possibly do in life he should not become a musician, Brett finished high school a year early and attended the University of Rochester as a double major in History and Film Studies, graduating Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa.  While at the University of Rochester he was able to continue his musical studies at the UR's Eastman School of Music, playing with one of its nationally recognized jazz ensembles.

After college, Brett trained to become a lawyer. He received a J.D. from Columbia University Law School and an LL.M. in tax law from New York University Law School, and subsequently spent 25 years practicing international and corporate tax law, first as an associate and then as a partner, with a major international law firm and a Big Four accounting firm.  Brett put away his horn for a decade to concentrate on his career.

But jazz's siren call was too strong for Brett. In the early '90s he went back to the trombone, studying first with the legendary studio and jazz trombonist Wayne Andre and later with Jack Gale, and started composing original material as part of his studies. He eventually recorded three privately distributed CDs of original jazz compositions.

In late 2004 Brett decided to follow his dream of arranging for big band and began working with a series of teachers, including Pete McGuinness, Neal Kirkwood and David Berger. He eventually won admission to the prestigious BMI Jazz Composers Workshop under the direction of Mike Abene, Jim McNeely and Mike Holober, and over the years developed a book of more than two dozen arrangements, the best of which are presented here in his debut CD, Dreaming Big.

Brett approaches his composing and arranging with a particular mindset.  He describes it as trying to marry the sounds of Ravel and Debussy with the logic of Bach or, to analogize to modern big band arranging, combining Gil Evans with Bill Holman.  Based in part on his study of narrative structure in film back in his college days, Brett pays particular attention to the form of his compositions and arrangements, and generally tries to develop an arrangement out of the song itself.  For example, he might interpose an interlude or background riff based on a particular rhythm contained in a bar or two of the composition, or use a repeated harmonic device derived from the initial statement of a song.  But whatever he does to expand a simple one-minute, 32-bar song into a complex six-minute arrangement, he always tries to inject what some literary critics term "organicity" -- the whole arrangement seems to grow organically from the source material.  And whatever mood he tries to evoke -- whether playful, somber, angry or nostalgic -- he wants the listener to enjoy the listening experience, to be fully engaged throughout and, in the end, to be satisfied both emotionally and intellectually.

Brett lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with his infinitely patient wife, Amy Edelman, their two children, Jonah and Lily, and the family's two cats.