Trombonist-composer Craig Brenan isn’t one to stay still musically for long. His new recording, “Autonomic Robots” embraces his ongoing search for new ways to express himself through his music, while challenging the defining boundaries of jazz. By drawing upon outside influences and incorporating a small wind ensemble into his palette, Brenan has achieved the element of surprise for which reviewers have called him “singularly original”.
The album features Brenan’s latest band, Autonomic Robots. A.R.’s ensembles unique instrumentation (clarinet, alto sax, tenor sax, trumpet, bass clarinet, trombone and drums) was chosen as a means to fully express the sounds and melodies that have been rumbling around him for the past decade. With generous arranging assistance from famed German composer Florian Ross, the combination is stunning.
Craig Brenan – Trombone
John Ellis - Tenor Sax/Bass Clarinet
Connor Learmonth – Bass Clarinet/Clarinet
Dave Morgan – Trumpet/Flugelhorn
Adrienne Lorway – Clarinet/Bass Clarinet
Raymond Baril – Alto Sax/Clarinet/Bass Clarinet
Ted Poor - Drums
Creative jazz trombonist and composer Craig Brenan has performed and recorded in a wide variety of settings from trio to large ensemble, and has been featured on over 20 albums as a composer and performer. Brenan was born in 1969 in Saskatoon Saskatchewan, Canada, and at the age of 12 he began his training on the trombone in Edmonton, Alberta. As a student Craig won a number of awards at National Music Festivals, and various other honors and grants came from both his jazz and classical music skills. In 1990, Craig created the Creative Opportunity Orchestra, a diverse collection of musicians exploring a wide palate of musical styles and tastes. This ensemble would become the foundation for developing Craig’s musical identity. Years later, thanks to a grant he received, Craig moved to Boston to work on his Masters Degree in jazz studies at the New England Conservatory. While in Boston, Craig studied with artists including Jerry Bergonzi, George Garzone, Bob Brookmeyer, Danilo Perez, Steve Lacy, George Lewis, Curtis Fuller, Gene Bertoncini, and Bob Moses.
Craig recorded his debut album, Modo Trio, in 1999 under the Death Defying Records label. Craig formed the Modo Trio with bassist Jeff Johnson. Solo and working with his trio, Craig performed and continues to perform across the nation at festivals and concert halls. ‘The Uninvited’, Craig 's second album, was released in 2006 on the 482 Music label. It was a critical and underground hit as it featured keyboard wizard Jamie Saft of John Zorn fame. A year later Craig teamed up with twin brother Jim and recorded the successful Brenan Brothers album “The Throwdown” with tracks such as "Prince of Orphans," "The Kingdom," and "Were the Colour”. “DogLeg” followed with guest artist Wayne Horvitz, as well as an appearance on Earl MacDonald’s Juno nominated big band album. The new decade saw Craig embark on a prolific schedule of performing dates leading various ensembles that demonstrated his wide range in post-bop, modern jazz, creative improvisation, and other styles and idioms. Recently Craig was featured leading a sextet of winds and drums that included the best improvisers in the province called 7zark7. That same project has been re-imagined into a recording project that features drummer Ted Poor and tenor saxophonist/bass clarinetist John Ellis. The ensemble features six winds and drum kit. Due out later this year, the ensemble has been re-imagined, re-formulated and re-named “Autonomic Robots”. “Autonomic Robots” is due out on the Death Defying Records Label in 2014.
Craig is also a dedicated educator and has been involved in teaching music since 1991. Involved in jazz and classical education, Craig has taught beginners to professionals and is currently Assistant Professor at MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta. A recipient of the Tommy Banks award for Jazz Education, Craig has also received provincial teaching awards and is a recipient of the Prime Ministers Award for Teaching Excellence.