Bassist and composer Brandi Disterheft is fast becoming one of jazz's brightest lights. She has made a huge impression on thousands of listeners, for both her imaginative live shows and her well-conceived recordings. Brandi's premiere album, Debut, won her the 2008 JUNO award (Canada's Grammy), and her CV already catalogues successful concerts as far away as Japan and Haiti, and at jazz festivals from Vienna to Chicago, and a performance at Carnegie Hall.
It's not only her fiery bass playing and charismatic performances that make people take notice. It's also her innovative writing style, informed by various influences, from Mingus to Björk. As Oscar Peterson said, "She is what we call serious."
A native of North Vancouver, Brandi's career began in her teens, playing with her mother, Chicago-born jazz pianist Fran Jare. Brandi has since studied with jazz legends Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Rufus Reid, Don Thompson and Danilo Perez. Presently, she's relocated to New York City in order to study with legendary bassist Ron Carter. She continues to study with a classical teacher as well, eager to be as well-rounded a player as possible.
Brandi has opened for such top acts as Diana Krall, Dave Brubeck, Herbie Hancock and Chris Botti, and performed as featured soloist with the Canada Pops Orchestra at age twenty-one. She's earned both critical acclaim and the title "Rising Star" for her charismatic performances. "Her music is picturesque and enticing, as she grabs the blues, dips into bebop, lays down a cool ballad and even has the listener dancing. Disterheft comes into her own and shows why she's been creating a stir. A remarkable talent!" (Jerry D'Souza, AllAboutJazz.com)
Signed to Justin Time in 2008, Brandi's sophomore recording, the luminous and intoxicating Second Side was released in September 2009. Featuring guests Holly Cole and Ranee Lee, the stunning new work uses lively, swinging grooves combined with touches of lush atmospheres with influences ranging from cool jazz to Brazilian pop.
For this second recording, Brandi wanted to approach the material from a singer/songwriter's perspective, and accordingly, one can hear (though not overtly) the influence of early-period Joni Mitchell (especially in her approach to lyrics) and of Brazilian pop sensation Milton Nascimento ("Twilight Curtain"). Brandi adds, "I love writing music. This album, except for one song, consists of my own compositions. I find it very liberating. I do have influences, of course, but it's important for me to have my own voice." Second Side was picked by The Globe and Mail as one of the 10 great albums of 2009!
In the summer of 2009, after returning from a European tour, Brandi and her sextet performed at jazz festivals across Canada to great acclaim. "I like to bring in the entertainment factor. There's a way to make shows fun and exciting," adds Brandi. "I love seeing a band whose members have fun onstage, and I love to showcase each member. It can be exhilarating. I like to throw curveballs, too, so the audience doesn't just hear one kind of music for hours." Brandi was also the she also the subject of the documentary Toronto – New York by Guy Dixon which debuted at NXNE that same year – she also found time to record with legendary pianists Oliver Jones and Hank Jones – for their 2009 release Pleased To Meet You.
In September 2009, Brandi was selected as a "Revelation Radio-Canada Musique" for the 2009-10 season, a prized honour stipulating that her worldwide activities are to enjoy enhanced visibility on all Radio-Canada platforms (radio, television, Internet) until June 2010. Launched in October 2008, the Revelation Radio-Canada Musique program is a new initiative aimed at supporting Canada's emerging musical talent in all genres. In exchange for this visibility, Brandi agrees to become "ambassador" of the Radio-Canada Musique brand.
In January 2012 - Brandi entered the studio again, and the result is her breathtaking new album Gratitude (fall 2012). It takes the listener back to the roots of jazz, or according to the bassist, back to Brandi's family's music room where she spent many afternoons listening and dancing to her Mother's LP collection that included Oscar Peterson, Bird and Duke Ellington. With the New Orleans influenced horn arrangements such as the reflective, celebration of her cousin's life, title track Gratitude, to the up-tempo, swinging and fiery Portrait of Duke, Brandi features an all-star band including Renee Rosnes, piano, Gregory Hutchinson (Ray Brown's drummer), drums, Sean Jones (former member of Wynton Marsalis' Lincoln Center Orchestra), trumpet, Vincent Herring, (Cedar Walton's saxophonist) alto saxophone, and Anne Drummond (Kenny Barron's flautist), bass and alto flute. Gratitude is nominated for a Juno Award this year.