Music: Big Brooklyn Red

The blue-eyed crooner, Big Brooklyn Red, has strawberry blond hair and is not a big guy, but he is a proud Brooklynite with a BIG talent. He received his name from Mandrill’s guitarist Tommy Trujillo soon after arriving in Miami in 1997, in search of life beyond New York. An unusually politically minded kid, who by the age of 15, was an advocate and activists for community issues ranging from teen parenting to apartheid to AIDS awareness. He got his musical break at an event organized by CityKids and remained with the company until age 19. The organization, was located in Tribeca and created to empower multicultural youth through the arts. During his stint at CityKids he was able to hone his craft with performances in high schools, and prisons, as well as on Broadway and TV, alongside countless celebrities. He performed his first original composition with jazz legends Herbie Hancock and Branford Marsalis and then again with the late, great Grover Washington, Jr. at age 17.

Big Brooklyn Red released his first album, Forward, in 2002 (available on iTunes), followed by a series of Soulful House Music releases, Shine Your Light (2002), I Got Sunshine (2003), He Moves (2006), and All I Want (2007), including a mix-CD Unrehearsed Vol.1, a collection of freestyles created in the studio in 2009. His most recent album and labor of love of the past four years, Answer The Call, was just released and is gaining traction in the UK where he will be answering the call and jumping the pond to support it with live performances in January.

Prolific in recordings, however, one must witness what Big Brooklyn Red is most known for amongst the local lounges: his freestyle performances, making each and every show a one of a kind. As a true New Yorker adapting to the lackadaisical rehearsal schedules of the local musicians, his freestyle method developed out of necessity and soon became his trademark talent. “I usually take a phrase as part of my show, although sometimes I forgo that part of the process and just freestyle without the audience knowing. In fact at one of my recent gigs someone asked me where they could buy a copy of a song that I had just written on stage…that tends to happen when folks are paying attention,” says Brooklyn, “That’s where the magic is for me….To just open your mouth and listen to what God might have me say. The better I sound, the better the song is, the more humble it makes me.”

When you go to hear him, chances are you’ll catch him with one of three of his band configurations: Big Brooklyn Red and The Magic City3, with whom he usually records with; Persons of Interest with Miami beatboxer Kamikaze; and the Red Monkey Duo, an almost completely freestyle duo with Nathan “Monkey” Greenburg. The Red Monkey Duo recently played at The Lagniappe House with Monkey on electric bass looping in a multitude of sounds combined with extraordinary bass weaving around the singer’s voice showcasing a hypnotic performance.

His style is often described as smoothly soulful, and though it is passionately soulful, you cannot stop there in the description. With his first and foremost influence being Stevie Wonder, you may start to get a audio sense of him, however, throw in a few of his other influences such as Donny Hathaway, Otis Redding, The O’Jays, Ray Charles, and Gladys Knight, toss in some well placed rough edges, then add his unique injection of occasional jazz phrasing and you get a style that can only be described as Big Brooklyn Red.

Chances are that on any given night you’ll find the Brooklynite either headlining or collaborating with his musical peers at The Lagniappe House, Blackbird Ordinary, Hoxton, The Van Dyke, The Marlin, or somewhere in our Magic City, simply because he’s got the music in him and just has to get it out. Follow him on his Facebook Page, or Twitter or on his Blog so you can be sure to catch him.

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