Brian Culbertson

Brian Culbertson Biography

Even though Brian Culbertson might be categorized as lite jazz, his music has just enough "oomph" to keep you interested. The talented young composer/arranger/keyboardist/ trombonist's music has maturity that is, at times, beyond his years, and Culbertson credits his dad with helping him develop an ear for the type of music that he makes.

His father, Jim Culbertson, a respected high school jazz band director and trumpeter, cultivated a love of sanguine sounds for young Brian who eagerly listened to anything his dad listened to. Their Decatur, IL, home would be alive with the recorded sounds of Maynard Ferguson, Buddy Rich, the Brecker Brothers, and David Sanborn. Growing up, Culbertson also listened to '70s R&B/pop/funk bands like Blood, Sweat & Tears, Tower of Power, and Earth, Wind & Fire.

Culbertson began his musical training at the age of eight with piano lessons, at nine he moved to drums, ten trombone, and bass at 12. Bored with classical recital pieces, he began composing in junior high. By his freshman year in high school, he was experimenting with the then-new Yamaha DX-7 synthesizer and an old four-track recorder in the basement of his parents' home. His dedication earned him six individual and five group Downbeat student awards.

During his high school years, he started getting into MIDI sequencing and synthesizers. He couldn't find players that were able to play his songs on the level that he wanted. Most of his peers were into heavy metal. So Culbertson, who cites pop producer/songwriter David Foster (Earth, Wind & Fire's "After The Love Is Gone") as one of his strongest influences, learned how to play all the parts his self. Keeping to himself, he negated any problems with peer acceptance of his musical taste.

After graduation, Culbertson headed to Chicago to begin studies in the music program at DePaul University. On campus, he began to run into high-level musicians and started playing in a band.

A family friend helped Culbertson get a deal with Mesa/Blue Moon in 1994. In the bedroom of the apartment that he shared with three college buddies, Culbertson single-handedly recorded his debut album, Long Night Out. The album spent ten consecutive weeks in the Top Five of the adult contemporary charts. On his follow-up album, Modern Life, Culbertson eschewed the one-man band approach in favor of a live band made up of some of the best musicians in Chicago, plus stellar saxophonist Gerald Albright. He's put out several other albums, including After Hours (1995), Secrets (1997), and Somethin' Bout Love (1999). Culbertson's productions include albums by Bob Mamet and Steve Cole. Having gotten into composing advertising jingles, Culbertson has set his sights on soundtracks. ~ Ed Hogan, All Music Guide

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