Acclaimed jazzman comes home to Peninsula for two appearances
By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
Print This | Email This
PENINSULA HOME FUND: A hand up to a mother and her son -- 12/21/13 -08:25 PM
Pickup tips over into ditch in Port Angeles. Driver lands in jail accused of DUI -- 12/21/13 -07:49 PM
OWL VS. OWL. Feds begin killing barred owls in experiment to help spotted owls -- 12/21/13 -06:40 PM
Sequim man hurt in van wreck near Elwha River bridge -- 12/21/13 -05:47 PM
Forks man stable after rollover on U.S. Highway 101 -- 12/21/13 -05:47 PM
This train was coming from jazzman Oscar Peterson, straight into Brancato’s life.
This song had a certain feel, he recalled, “that was just intoxicating.”
Brancato was a boy back then, taking piano lessons, growing up in Seattle with his sister Mary Sue.
He went on to study with Nathan Hale High School band director Jim Jorgensen, who opened up a world of jazz and rhythm and blues, from Herbie Hancock to Tower of Power.
Today, Brancato is a member of New York City’s corps de jazz, a pianist who has played with the likes of Paquito D’Rivera, Houston Person and Christian McBride. Also a composer, Brancato’s melodies have been recorded by Nancy Wilson and Les McCann.
This week, Brancato is coming home to the Northwest.
And because Mary Sue lives in Sequim, the piano man — with his quintet — will give concerts at two intimate venues on the North Olympic Peninsula.
Ted Brancato & Friends will play first at the Bay Club, 120 Spinnaker Place, Port Ludlow, at 6:45 p.m. Wednesday.
Reservations are $20 at www.BrownPaperTickets.com.
The quintet then will arrive at Maier Performance Hall at Peninsula College, 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd., Port Angeles, at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Tickets are $15 at Port Book and News in downtown Port Angeles, Pacific Mist Books in downtown Sequim and at the door if any are left.
These are Brancato’s first public performances here in seven years. Back in September 2006, he and singer Jeanie Bryson gave a concert to benefit the humanitarian groups Doctors Without Borders and Partners in Health.
Brancato remembers the night well; he fairly danced on his seat as Bryson wended her way through “Fever” and “Perpetual Blues Machine.”
“Ideally, I’m not thinking at all; I’m just feeling and in the moment,” he said of his concert state of mind.
“The music has a lot of rhythm in it. I like to move to that, and I hope the audience feels it, too.”
To bring his songs fully alive, Brancato talks a bit about what inspired them.
“Kinshasa,” one of the tracks on his new CD, “The Next Step,” recalls his experience in that city. Brancato visited the Democratic Republic of Congo, then Zaire, in the late 1980s, and the memory of that place — with its rhythms and heat — has stayed in him.
Brancato, 56, has devoted 30 years to playing jazz, in New York City and across the world.
As Bryson’s musical director, he traveled across Brazil, Japan, Greece, the Netherlands and the United States. With Dee Daniels, another jazz songstress, he toured West Africa twice.
His performing and recording began in Seattle, but when he met songwriter Gene McDaniels, things leaped forward.
Brancato and McDaniels, the late hitmaker behind “A Hundred Pounds of Clay” as well as Roberta Flack’s “Feel Like Making Love,” clicked right away.
Together, the two men played all over New York City’s Manhattan, meeting jazz stars and “shopping our songs,” as Brancato puts it.
Bryson, the singer who happens to be Dizzy Gillespie’s daughter, was one of the people he met. Brancato worked with her for some 20 years.
Yet “The Next Step” is the artist’s first CD under his own name.
With obvious delight, he credits Mary Sue Brancato. A marine biologist with NOAA, she’s lived in Sequim since 1995 — and has almost single-handedly put together her brother’s Pacific Northwest tour.
Tula’s in Seattle; Ivories in Portland, Ore.; and a couple of charity benefit concerts are on the itinerary for Ted Brancato & Friends, with Matt Langley on saxophone, Chuck Deardorf on bass, Mark Ivester on drums and Tom Bergeson on percussion.
Brancato has done some informal gigs, though.
His mother, Dorothy Brancato, lived at Crestwood Health and Rehabilitation Center until her death in July at age 85.
So “I was hanging out in PA,” Brancato said, adding he developed a love for Good to Go Grocery’s lunches and chocolate chip cookies.
Mary Sue notes that her brother did more than hang out; he brought his music to the staff and residents at Crestwood on the dining-hall piano.
“He’d take requests,” said Mary Sue, while “always making sure to play Mom’s favorite, ‘Captain Nasty,’” one of his own compositions.
On this tour, “I am thrilled,” Brancato said, adding that he grew up backpacking the wild Olympic coast. And for the cover of “The Next Step,” the artist was inspired to use a photograph of Portage Head, off Shi Shi Beach.
Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last modified: September 21. 2013 6:47PM