276 – Otis Brown III: Playing with Esperanza Spalding and Joe Lovano, The New School Environment, Racial Justice in Jazz
Otis Brown III is a Grammy-nominated jazz drummer, composer, and recording artist who is a go-to session and touring sideman. He is best-known for his work with Joe Lovano in Us Five, and Esperanza Spalding, though he has been on dozens of sessions and is as noteworthy for backing singers as he is instrumentalists.
Brown III was born in Hackensack, New Jersey. His mother was a vocal music teacher and choir director, and his father a school band instructor and noted percussionist who played with Al Green and James Brown.
The younger Brown III began his musical studies on alto saxophone at the age of seven under his father’s tutelage, and showed early promise. He played not only in school but in church. After moving to Newark where he attended high school, he played alto in jazz orchestra and snare drum in the marching band, both of which were directed by his dad.
After completing his studies at Delaware State, he earned a scholarship to New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York — his classmates included pianist Robert Glasper, saxophonist John Ellis, vocalist Bilal Oliver, and trumpeter Kenyon Harrold. In New York, Brown III studied with Larry Goldings, Lewis Nash, Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez, Carl Allen, and others.In this episode, Otis talks about
In this episode, Otis talks about:
- Reconnecting with some of the music that inspired him early on
- Growing up the son of musicians and music educators
- The accessibility of heroes in New York
- His experience at The New School, and his perspective on music education
- His thoughts on racial justice in the music world, and how music can and should deliver a message