Brendan Rothwell "Destiny" Review
Artist: Brendan Rothwell
Brendan is an accomplished Canadian bassist, composer and producer. With extensive global radio airplay and multi-million streams across the primary digital platforms, his music and brand captivates his growing audience. The trigger and driving force for his decision to play the bass was the 1986 album from Miles Davis,“Tutu”, featuring the great Marcus Miller. He has released three albums to date, all of the highest quality in terms of composition and performance. His tone and patience create a fingerprint that is uniquely his own.
Destiny is his third release in a few short years. It is a 52 minute, 12 song set that showcases an undeniably impressive combination of musicianship and taste. Rothwell's melodies are quite obviously the center of his compositions at all times. He has chops, like all of his peers, but what many of them lack in taste, Brendan has to spare. It is his taste and attention to production details that keeps the listener engaged throughout the entirety of this exceptional record.
It is difficult to pick standout tracks from such a strong effort across the entirety of the set. But one that jumped out of the speakers in my first of several listens was the song My Time. One of the things I find quite unique about the instrumentation is the lack of a guitar on the track. A gutsy move that paid off with a huge dividend. The synth and piano do more than enough to create the bed track without interfering in any way with Brendan's sublime lines.
Divine is a cut that the one word title captures the vibe of the song perfectly. A lush synth pad provides the only accompaniment for Rothwell's bass that paints a flamenco flavored masterpiece. This album in many ways is walking the tightrope between Contemporary Jazz and World music. This track in particular fully embodies the latter of the two, showcasing subtle nuances of a master musician.
If I had to pick a favorite track it would be a toss up between Carmel and the closer For Now. They are both wonderful compositions that leave the kind of space that is rare in a musician that isn't playing a wind instrument, leading me to believe that Brendan has listened to a good deal of saxophone players in his formative years. My only criticism is the tracks are too short. But I suppose that's the trick isn't it? Leave your audience wanting more.
Destiny is far more than a bassist's solo record. It is proof that the bass can be the focal point of an album without exhausting the listener. It is Rothwell's restraint that serves him well. This restraint, and fluid virtuosity coupled with a full production that is mixed with a razor's precision makes for a memorable listen. When listening to this album there is no mystery as to why Brendan Rothwell is building the fan base that he is. This is an exceptional piece of work from a bassist that I believe should be judged next to the best of not only the Contemporary Jazz genre but of outstanding bassists of all genres. Names like Marcus Miller, Roscoe Beck, Stuart Hamm and Nathan East came to mind as I listened to this fantastic album. A must hear for fans of the Contemporary Jazz genre!
Check out this great interview with Brendan as well.
Tell us the brief history of your musical career.
Music started for me aged 2 with the piano, then singing as part of a cathedral choir, adding violin and joining the county youth orchestra. In my mid-teens I discovered the album “Tutu” by Miles Davis, heard Marcus Miller for the first time and then it was bass all the way!
Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
Marcus Miller, Stanley Clarke, Wayman Tisdale, LTK (Trevor King), Bob James,
David Sanborn, AKIR and Mrs R.
What album has had the greatest impact on your life as a musician?
“Tutu”, by Miles Davis. That’s where I first heard Marcus Miller.
What’s your key accomplishment as a musician thus far?
Building my network, my brand, my recording catalogue and most importantly my audience. I am so thankful for the immediate and positive response I got from the world of radio. Those “early adopters” continue to spin my music and support the new creations that I release. My musical network has grown quickly the last couple of years thanks to some unique collaboration opportunities.
What's the best piece of advice another musician ever gave you?
From a globally-renowned bassist, who has influenced my music and has confirmed his confidence in my abilities as a musician… “You know what to do, keep on keeping on my friend!”
What's new in the recording of your music?
I’m gradually increasing the amount of piano and keyboard work in my recordings, not to shift from the bass as the primary lead instrument, but to add to the dimensions of sound.
How has your music changed over the years?
My music has evolved from my original classical background and skill set to the world of jazz that I compose and perform in today.
What inspires you to write the music you write?
I hear from my audience that my music has helped many of them through challenging points in their life, inspiring them and bringing calm to their environment.
How does your latest album differ from any of your others in the past?
“DESTINY” is a platform to expand my signature sound and features increased use of electric and acoustic piano, enriching the soundscape behind the lead electric bass.
How are you continuing to grow musically?
Through my recent collaboration work over the last several years, I have gained great insight to other musicians’ approach to composition which in turn helps me to develop fresh ideas.
If you could play anywhere or with anyone in the world, where or with who would it be?
So many options here!!! I’d love to have the opportunity to work with Stanley Clarke at a major venue in the US!
What are your biggest obstacles as a musician?
Heavily-restricted access to the US market as a performing Canadian musician. Streaming data confirms that my biggest audience sector is in the US, but the existing US work visa restrictions make it impossible to travel and perform there at short notice. I continue to lend my voice to this worthy political argument in the hope that we can address the imbalance that artists who are from outside the US face, and move to a landscape of equity and balance.
What do you think the best aspects of the music business are?
The rapid growth of the digital environment has provided significant opportunities for me to build my brand and widen my audience. How else would a bassist plan to have their music heard many millions of times around the world?
What strengths do you have that you believe make you the musician you are?
A combination of business acumen and musical experience… my brand tagline: “Instrumental in the Art and Business of Music”.
Describe your creative process when you write new music.
Most times, there’s a bass riff that evolves through my practice regime. Then I take it from there!
Give us some advice for new musicians just starting out in the industry.
Listen to and respect the people who discover you and show support for your work: never forget them! Learn to recognize those folks, as they may well be foundational to your long-term success. Identify the "early adopters" and build on those relationships. In the music industry, those contacts can develop and become long-term allies. If you're serious about your musical career, make sure you get a grounding in mainstream business skills as early as you can.
What is your favorite piece of gear and why?
My Dingwall 6 string bass… simply amazing!… and Canadian!
What does your practice routine consist of?
There’s a bass in most of the rooms at our home, so I always have the opportunity to play. Practice routine is really about consistency when I’m learning a new phrase so that the movement between notes and the linear flow of the bass line work in unison.
What do you like most about your new album?
I’m proud of the consistency of sound and tone throughout the album. “DESTINY” is my third album, and I feel my production skills have developed with each new release.
What artists do you enjoy listening to nowadays?
Alongside my contemporary jazz colleagues and friends, I’m currently enjoying music from Cory Henry, Steve Vai, Nine Inch Nails to name a few!
What is the best way to stay updated on current news; gigs, releases, etc.
All info is available through my website - brendanrothwell.com - and I encourage folks to get in contact directly by email. In addition to all the streaming platforms, my albums are also available on CD format and can be personalized/autographed on request… let me know what you need!
What's next for you?
In addition to my own compositions, I’ve completed several collaborations that will be released over the next 6-12 months including albums by Reza Khan, GTF, Wayne Gutshall and Sylvia Bennett. Release details will be listed at brendanrothwell.com
What are your interests outside of music?
Cooking, movies and volunteering!