Jim Brenan established himself as a top-notch performer and educator in the North American jazz community before accepting the position of Coordinator of Jazz Studies at The School of Creative and Performing Arts at the University of Auckland where he wrote and administered New Zealand’s first undergraduate degree in Jazz Studies. Currently Jim the Chair of the department of Theatre, Speech and Music Performance at Mount Royal University.
Jim holds a Bachelor in Jazz Studies from St. Francis Xavier University and a Masters in Jazz Studies from Rutgers University in New Jersey, where he studied with renowned master saxophonist Ralph Bowen. Along with formal study Jim performed extensively in the tri-state area, New York, Philadelphia and New Jersey. In this capacity Jim had occasion to create music with Michael Mossman, Ralph Bowen, Kenny Barron, Slide Hampton, Kenny Wheeler, Ravi Coltrane, Randy Brecker and Kenny Drew jr. among others. As well Jim performed with Phil Woods, Illinois Jacquet and Flip Philips for the New Jersey Jazz Hall of Fame concerts.
Jim has been heard across Canada the United States and Europe as the lead tenor saxophone with The Maynard Ferguson Big Bop Nouveau Band. As a member of this band Jim also performed with Diane Schuur and recorded for the Concord record label as a featured soloist on the “Michael Feinstein and Maynard Ferguson Big City Rhythms” big band album. This past year Jim Performed on Juno nominated Recording: Earl MacDonald: Re:Visions, another great opportunity for Jim to travel and record, this time at the Famous Bennett Studios in New Jersey, USA
This year marks the release of Jim’s fourth CD entitled: Jim Brenan 11 featuring Chris Andrew “50/50”. Spending half his life in Edmonton and half in Calgary, Jim Brenan knows well
the wealth of talent harbored within their city limits. The Jim Brenan 11 is a union of the most versatile and talented Alberta-based jazz musicians you can find. Brenan was raised in Edmonton and now lives and works in Calgary. Playing regularly in both cities, he wanted to capture the talent and creativity of the musicians from both communities. As the eleventh member of the group, Brenan serves as the composer, arranger, tenor saxophonist and peacekeeper between Oilers and Flames fans.
The creation of this music began with Brenan’s desire to unify two communities but also to express an identity focused on inclusivity. “I had a desire to create a large, acoustic band that brought a powerful, groove based sound - just rhythm section and horns. While thinking of the instrumentation, I knew that I wanted to showcase a wide variety of musical minds. It’s the guys in the band that collectively come together to make up the unique sound”. Jim Brenan’s sound is infused with a soul and energy that bursts through the seams of its songs. Tiger’s Milk is a tribute to the Tied and Tickled trio’s blend of jazz and world music; an uncompromising power-to-the-people anthem that changes gears mid-way through it’s loping melody. Jocasta plays like a cop show car chase while Empress and Hiding Place, impossible to define by genre, ease into the more soulful side of the band.
Featuring Chris Andrew was a “no brainer” for this project. Chris, originally from BC has come to represent the best-of-the-best in his adopted province - quite simply every project is better with Chris. Having worked together for many decades, Brenan knew this collaboration was a natural fit and one that paid off spectacularly. Check out Chris on any of the tracks, but especially his space time warp on Fant-O-Max, reminiscent of the greatest explorations of Bitches Brew. The soloistic firepower is evident, with the likes of Craig Brenan, Sean Craig, Mike Gardner, Sergio Rodriguez, Jamie Cooper and Rubim de Toledo featured throughout. The gritty loose funk is an undeniably catchy blend that punches above its small ensemble weight. The results of blending 11 of Alberta’s finest musicians creates a true 50/50 collaboration of talent and skill, proving we can come together to focus on what’s important; the music.