Kathy Brown in Training with Jazz Masters


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Jazz pianist Dr Kathy Brown left the island last week to further study jazz piano with three of New York's top master teachers who are themselves recording and performing artists.

Years ago, when she mostly played classical music, Kathy Brown walked into the Phillip Sherlock Centre for Creative Arts at the University of the West Indies (UWI) and heard Jill Gibson playing an unfamiliar style of music on the piano, curiosity got the better of her.

Introduction out of the way, an affected but curious Brown inquired of the Jamaica School of Music's master teacher the kind of music she was playing on the piano. And, while the classically trained Brown was indeed cognisant of a genre of music called jazz, it was the first time that she could put a finger on the music of jazz.

Initially self-taught in reading and playing by ear, having being introduced to the piano at age five, Kathy Brown, as a student at Manchester High School in Mandeville, studied classical piano up to Grade 6 through the Royal School of Music in England. Then a medical student at the UWI, Brown heard the music and fell head over heal in love with jazz. She asked and Jill Gibson gave her the preliminaries but intermittent classes in jazz piano that went beyond her tenure at medical school.

Kathy Brown, in a sense, continued to be self-taught perfecting her awareness in jazz by listening to Bob James, Joe Sample, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock's earlier works, Chucho Valdes, Monty Alexander, Kenny Barron, Antonio Carlos Jobim, and Michel Camilo to name a few of her influences.

Still, Brown, who founded her jazz band, Kathy Brown & Friends, in March 2002 and recorded a debut instrumental album, Mission: A Musical Journey in 2007, describes her music as world music.

She is off to New York - the major city for jazz - to further her education in jazz piano, contracting the tutelage of three jazz master teachers, Joanne Brackeen, Barry Harris, and jazz great pianist Kenny Barron.

Brackeen is an outstanding teacher and musician, Barron, a nine-time Grammy winner, just last week played the Detroit Jazz Festival while Harris is jazz pianist, composer and educator.

Brown returns to the island towards the end of September.

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