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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.

Fort Wayne native returns for smooth jazz show Friday at CS3

Fort Wayne native Kris Brownlee returns to town to play a smooth jazz show at 8:30 p.m. Friday at Calhoun Street Soups, Salads & Spirits, 1915 S. Calhoun St. (Courtesy photo)
Fort Wayne native Kris Brownlee returns to town to play a smooth jazz show at 8:30 p.m. Friday at Calhoun Street Soups, Salads & Spirits, 1915 S. Calhoun St. (Courtesy photo)
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Thursday, September 26, 2013 12:01 am
Fort Wayne native and smooth jazz saxophonist Kris Brownlee will return to town for a performance at 8:30 p.m. Friday at Calhoun Street Soups, Salads & Spirits, 1915 S. Calhoun St. Cost is $20 per person.Brownlee, 35, who now lives in Bristol, east of Elkhart, and has signed with Megawave Records, answered a few questions via email. Here's what he said:

Q: What were your musical influences early in life growing up in Fort Wayne?

A: I was a very accomplished DJ at very young age and spent the majority of time listening to R&B and Soul groups like the Whispers, Earth Wind & Fire, Prince, Cameo and Michael Jackson. However, I quickly grew tired of listening to similar music all of the time and was looking to expand my music palette. So my ears perked up when I was turned on to smooth jazz by listening to Kenny G on the radio one morning before school, which lead to my biggest musical influence, Boney James.

Q: What led you to move out of Fort Wayne, and when did you do that?

A: Attending Manchester College, where I obtained two bachelor's degrees (music performance and psychology), led me to move out of Fort Wayne back in 1996. After graduation in 2000, I moved to northern Indiana.

Q: How did you get into playing smooth jazz, and how would you describe that style of music?

A: When I decided to make music my career choice, I knew the style I wanted to perform was smooth jazz, due to my R&B influences. But before that, I studied for years learning the basics of the instrument and studied lots of classical (music) material as well.

I would describe smooth jazz as blend of Latin, pop, R&B, funk and, of course, jazz, which is performed by a lead instrumental player. Though vocal smooth jazz artists exist, they have to be careful not to fall into sounding like an R&B singer that has been reclassified.

Q: You released a CD earlier this year. What was involved in making it happen, and what will people hear when they listen to it?

A: My new CD, “Sincerely Yours,” involved a lot of studio work that took place over the course of two years, and even a couple of trips out to Arizona to work with Grammy Award-winning producer Michael Broening and Michigan to work with producer Jeff Keefer. I was also able to work with other top-notch talent like Cindy Bradley, Gabriela Anders and Jay Soto as featured special guests.

As people listen and read the liner notes, they will notice I played the majority of the instruments myself and also served as songwriter, producer and studio engineer. The feel and sound of the album is a little bit of a throwback to vintage smooth jazz with a modern twist, filled with lush harmonies and accented grooves.

Q: Tell us about your live show here Friday. What can people expect to see and hear?

A: For this show, Andrew Hauser, Chris Chapman and Jeff Keefer will be joining me on stage. I will be performing 10 of my new songs from the CD. Audiences can also expect to see great interaction between the band and a special rare appearance of me performing “live” on guitar, which is something I haven't done for two years. These days, I usually stick to playing saxophone, unless I'm in the studio.

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