Brian Hudson & Next Level
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Brian Hudson & Next Level

Atlanta, GA | Established. Jan 01, 2017

Atlanta, GA
Established on Jan, 2017
Band Jazz Fusion

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Aug
19
Brian Hudson & Next Level @ The Velvet Note

Alpharetta, GA

Alpharetta, GA

Aug
15
Brian Hudson & Next Level @ Olde Town Pavillion in Downtown Conyers

Conyers, GA

Conyers, GA

Oct
29
Brian Hudson & Next Level @ The Velvet Note

Alpharetta, GA

Alpharetta, GA

Music

Press


Lately I've been scratching my head at the preponderance of '80s-style fusion jazz that's being released these days. To paraphrase John Oliver's show on HBO, I'm wondering why this is still a thing. To me it sounds dated. I'm not talking about the compositions or the execution, but the instrumentation--twinkly electric pianos, funky bass runs, sax solos straight out of Lethal Weapon and most of all glassy, slick production values that comes straight out of digital's early years. When it comes to jazz, preservation of classic styles is often paramount--but I'm still questioning the necessity of preserving this stuff. It's all about preferences, I know, and I'm being kind of a pig about it. But sometimes I kind of go, "Ew."

Then I get proven wrong by fusion jazz that balances the old and the new. Drummer Brian Hudson's new album, Next Level, is a case in point. This is funky fusion jazz that does sound thirty years old, but in a good way. This collection of originals from Hudson and keyboard player Randy Hoexter is bristling with pure energy and excitement, and the whole album is executed with such precision that you'll understand why these two gentlemen are so dedicated to this genre.


What sets this album apart from some of the others I've heard recently is that Hudson has gathered a collection of fusion all-stars who have played with such legends as Larry Carlton, Earl Klugh, Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and many more. They're all ringers, in other words. Hudson is no wallflower, either--his drumming is up front and center, always full of complex rhythms and textures. From an audiophile point of view, his work is a tutorial on dynamic contrast. The overall sound quality of this CD is stunning in its superb sense of flow and balance. It doesn't sound glassy and bright in that woefully cheery '80s style--it's warm and full and engaging, which is probably why I like the album so much.

So am I warming up to this genre? It's hard to say. I could go back and re-evaluate some of those CDs I dissed over the last year and determine whether or not I needed a valid entry point. But what I really believe is that this is a smooth, professional, expertly played CD that makes me realize that fusion can still be as intriguing now as it was in 1986. - The Vinyl Anachronist


Drummer Brian Hudson is a veteran performer of almost all popular genres. His debut jazz release, “Next Level,” shows Hudson’s ability to make groove-infused contemporary tracks.
Introducing Brian Hudson

Brian Hudson is an Atlanta-based musician who is based out of Clearwater, Florida. Hudson has performed non-stop for almost two decades. He has performed in a variety of musical ensembles from rock to jazz, to contemporary Christian to pop and blues. Hudson also stays active in the professional music community by being on the Georgia Music advisory board, and is a voting member of The Recording Academy.

Hudson’s earliest forays into drumming began like other children’s–by banging on pots and pans. That stereotypical beginning would not indicate the professionalism and heart that Hudson imbues his work with years later.

Having spent his formative years in Florida, Hudson fell in love with jazz and jazz fusion. Groups such as Chick Corea’s Akoustic Band and Spyro Gyra, showed a young Hudson what could be broached performance-wise in terms of jazz. Even with his other projects in other genres, Hudson never forgot his love of jazz and decided early on that he would one day record a jazz album.
“Next Level” soundscape

When a new jazz performer comes along, the instinctive thing to do is compare the performer to those who have gone before. Whether it is helpful or not remains to be seen, but it is a natural inclination. That said, listening to Hudson’s work calls to mind Brian Culbertson. Both performers take a groove-inspired approach to jazz that is full of urban energy.
“NYC” by Brian Hudson

The song sits on the boundaries of mid-tempo and fast. There are interludes of a few slow measures before the normal pace resumes. This changing dynamic gives the song texture and does not distract. The song itself finds Hudson’s drums played with a rock/funk muscularity that drives the whole song. There is a rock/pop to the song overall, as a bright piano is showcased. It is replaced by a guitar. The horns, bass, guitar, keyboard and piano all mesh well, while also displaying their particular strengths.
Brian Hudson: “Playing with Gravity”

The temptation is to write about all of the songs on this well-crafted debut. “Playing with Gravity” wins in terms of originality. The rock-infused jazz track features a clear, chunky guitar that soars and rocks while a timpani of drums rests easy just beneath it. The ensemble is simple: drums, keyboards, upright bass and guitar. The instrumentation provides an up and down feel that is appropriate for a song with “gravity” in its title. This song, though, feels light. Not as in easy listening, but as in free, or freeing. Maybe that quality comes from the confidence of the musicians. In addition to Hudson, his ensemble members have played with some of the most recognizable names in the music industry. Their combined artistry here creates a soothing, yet invigorated atmosphere that makes “Playing with Gravity” the standout of the album.

Hudson is not new to music, so this album is a technical one at best. Hudson has managed to achieve some of the nuances crafted by the likes of Chick Corea that he came to appreciate years ago. “Next Level” symbolizes Hudson’s dream come true. The release is a must-listen for new and veteran jazz fans. - Lemon Wire


Drummer Brian Hudson leads a soul-jazz team that hearkens to vintage CTI sounds of bands like The Crusaders and Weather Report. With a core team of Randy Hoexter/key, Joe Reda/b and Trey Wright/g, he gets fun and funky on uptempo and upbeat tunes such as “Silver Lining,” the hip “Jumpy Nylons” and melodious “Playing With Gravity,” all including rich guitar work by Wright sliding through the textures. Sam Skelton adds tenor and soprano sax as Hudson snaps everyone to attention with his sticks on the Joe Zawinul-inspired “Mr. Peabody” with Skelton’s soprano searing through the ricochets on “Ybor City.” Melvin Jones’ trumpet makes it a tenacious sextet, with the horns punching through Wright’s wacka wooka guitar on the feisty “Metro” and the soulful strut of “NYC.” Optimistic, and a fresh breath of air from a genre sadly overlooked these days. - Jazz Weekly


Brian Hudson drum led jazz fusion debut Brian Hudson – NEXT LEVEL: It must be because Brian has performed with so many different genres (jazz, of course, as well as straight-ahead roots rock, soul/funk and various other bands)… debut CD’s seldom contain a full set of tunes that are ALL “picks”… just listen to the full-body on one of my favorite jazz pieces (yet) in 2017… the 5:07 “Seventy Eight” has so many heavy changes that you’ll have to listen to it (at least) three times before you start to really “get it” (& even then, it will demand repeated listens again & again)! It certainly doesn’t hurt that he has some truly stellar players surrounding his high-energy sounds… Randy Hoexterer – keyboards and piano; bassist Adam Nitti on four tracks; Joe Reda bass on the other four tracks; Sam Skelton on saxophones; Melvin Jones on trumpet; and Trey Wright doing electric and acoustic guitars…

The compositions are all originals by Brian and Randy, and readers who visit here often know that I firmly believe that the “energy levels” are always at peak when the “creators” are performing their own tunes… & if you want a great example of that, just listen to the git-DOW-un & funky “Metro“… it’s really easy to visualize yourself hop-skippin’ through those horrendous inter-city transit systems in total “rush” mode… this one is a KILLER track, to be sure; I LOVED this one, & it got transferred to my iPhone playlists immediately!

In this case, it was a bit difficult to come up with my own personal favorite of the eight tunes offered up – because every one of them is jam-packed with great energy… after repeated listens, though, it is the guitar work (& Brian’s drums of course) on “Silver Lining” that got my vote. All-in-all, this is a SUPERB jazz adventure that gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from me, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99. Keep your ears on this gent, folks… you’ll be hearing a lot more from him over the coming months & years. Visit the Brian Hudson website to get more information. Rotcod Zzaj - Contemporary Fusion Reviews


Atlanta, Georgia based drummer and studio musician Brian Hudson is active in various groups. To mention are The Dave Mathews Cover Band, Tonohoney, Memory Dean, Soulhound, Madoca and Momentum.

Next Level is his debut album and was released in August, 2017. The album is a collaboration between Hudson and jazz/fusion musician, composer and producer Randy Hoexter (keyboard, piano). Both are joined by Adam Nitti, Joe Reda (bass), Sam Skelton (sax), Melvin Jones (trumpet), and Trey Wright (guitar). Next Level is also the name of Hudson's new formation.

On Nyc Hudson captures the pulsating life of New York in a dynamic contemporary jazz piece. Spacious phases alternate with quieter moments with a focus on saxophone and trumpet. Seventy Eight usually defines an old-fashioned record that is played by being turned around 78 times every minute. The jazz fusion tune picks up the musical themes at a fast pace.

Metro is a further tour de force in artful changes between sax, trumpet and organ in a delightful cohesion of linear thought processes. Ybor City presents Randy Hoexter in a breathtaking run on piano accompanied by saxophonist Skelton in winding improvisations. Mr. Peabody is based on the rhythm of a marching band, but meanders quickly into a swinging sunny guitar and organ excursion.

The syncopated Silver Lining bangs out with precision in a complex motif on piano and guitar. The bass line reveals a Latin touch. Jumpy Nylons plays well on the guitar equipped with nylon strings of the main matador Trey Wright. The dynamite arrangement is shared by Randy on keys and Brian on drums. Playing with Gravity swings in a waltz rhythm in a true artistic interpretation.

Drummer Brian Hudson's heart is beating in the rhythm of contemporary jazz and jazz fusion. Next Level ventures to the hard core approach of eclectic jazz. - Smooth Jazz Daily


Brian Hudson: Next Level

Posted By: Editor November 22, 2017

by Tom Faddis

Is Fusion dead? Well apparently not, as it lives and breathes quite well in the loins of Brian Hudson. Maybe a rocker by nature, this drummer can play it all apparently. Thankfully for us the listener, he is prodigiously armed with an arsenal of ideas and strong compositional skills. Produced by Randy Hoexter a modernist himself, the two cook up a winning release entitled Next Level, and it certainly is.

“NYC” sets the tone for the embarkment on this fusionistic journey. This track has all the elements that makes fusion fun to listen to: a funky beat, tight band hits, complex rhythms and a hip melody that is in influenced by bop/rock/funk and a wicked drum groove. Hudson establishes right from the start that this is going to be a hard-hitting date full of energy and grooves that is all about the meat and potatoes.

“Seventy Eight” continues to unfold the phenomenal layers of Hudson’s drumming. He obtains a perfect balance of combining a ballsy blues-rock sound and jazz sophistication. This album marks his first effort as a leader, but no matter what the instrumentation or setting, Hudson’s playing is focused, and he plays with conviction. The composition has many twist and turns, each section is well-conceived and the band is on fire. This is modern fusion, seemingly building on the sturdy roots of Tony Williams, but evolving the music to its next step!

Each player has chops to burn, but this band plays with a depth of conviction and soul, it is clearly something that sets them miles apart from many fusion bands out there these days. “Ybor City” is a fine example of the band’s technique and their ability to convey fusion in a musical fashion. Hudson creates a beautiful dense and interactive undercurrent for the flowing harmonies and moving melodies, simply put, this is pure and succinct fusion, that clearly vaunts musicians who are having a lot of fun while playing together, the comradery is evident. - 5 Finger Review by Tom Faddis


What I like most about fusion is the raucous energy it creates. Most players involved in the genre have a rock background that lends itself to some pretty grooving and cutting-edge jazz ideas when marrying the two genres together. Enter Brian Hudson, a drummer with a multi-principled background in music, hence proving my point.

Hudson grew up in Clearwater, Florida and started playing drums at the age of ten. In high school, Hudson studied privately with Jason Harnell (Maynard Ferguson), played in the drum line, the stage band and with a local band. After high school, he attended The University of South Florida School of Music for a year and a half, where he divided his playing between jazz combos, the symphony orchestra and playing with local jazz musicians around Tampa. He later transferred to the University of Georgia and the music town of Athens, Georgia to finish college, which provided him a rich diversity of music opportunities.

For the past seventeen years Hudson has performed, live and in the studio as a band member, or as a sideman with various artists covering a wide range of music. He is a member of former Capricorn Record Artist Memory Dean, soul/funk band Soulhound and performs with various other artists covering a diverse mix of music.

Next Level is Hudson’s debut album in the fusion jazz genre, to me it’s just called fusion, but to some in the jazz genre, they insist on the specificity. Ok, so moving on now, the album was co-produced by veteran jazz pianist Randy Hoexter, so the jazz pedigree is clear. What Next Level offers beyond is smart, grooving, yet intelligent ideas. Complex harmony, yet at the same time deceivingly accessible. The writing is strong on this album.

So, what about the playing? Well here are some clear reasons why this album stood out for me.

Starting with “NYC,” the melody is energetic and full of subtle band hits and counterpoint. Hudson’s kit fills the space with a powerful sound that pushes the music, while still allowing space for melodic lines to live and breathe. As the tune unfolds, the compositional elements come into focus, with refined reharmonizations, rich voicings and savvy bits of counterpoint and full backgrounds, Hudson creates a musical statement that is moving in both its musical prowess and its emotional stimulation. Skelton’s soloing is engaging and full of fiery exchanges with Hudson’s rhythmic commentary aflame.

The decisive “Ybor City,” contains gorgeous harmonic movement and melodic relationships set to a medium up funky fusion beat, with a poignant and lyrical melody. All are certifiable killer soloists as they ably demonstrate on this track, which Hoexter, Skelton, Adam Nitti and Hudson air time to demonstrate their formidable skills. Hudson’s cymbal work is exceptional as this track demonstrates, always interactive and full of rhythmic creativity. Using a portion of the intro for his drum solo on this track, Hudson again shows how he is always concerned about making an flowing musical statements that are cohesive and uniform in presentation and flow. - The Jazz Word by Ferell Aubre


Is Fusion on an upswing, well with all the quinquagenarian’s reliving their childhood, as most are becoming empty nesters, the answer would be a resounding YES! Thankfully there are young bucks like Brian Hudson, who has a strong rock background, that gives him that biting edge needed in raucous fusion, but with the edges of jazz giving it a cerebral smoothing of sensibility.

The notion of Next Level began in the fall of 2016 when Hudson teamed up with Randy Hoexter, who himself has released two jazz/fusion albums featuring Dave Weckl, Mike Stern and Jimmy Haslip, the two composed the music featured on the album. The goal was to compose eight tracks that have their own unique sound, but still capture the overall essence of jazz/fusion and contemporary jazz music. In my estimation that goal was achieved and more. There is a deep musical sense about the tunes, not just pyrotechnic playing, not that I am saying that’s not in there – because it is, but its done with a maturity that offers a profound musical experience too.

The band features, Randy Hoexter on keyboards and piano; bassist Adam Nitti, on four tracks (1,2,4 & 7); Joe Reda playing bass on the other four tracks (3, 5, 6, and 8); Sam Skelton on saxophones; Melvin Jones on trumpet; and Trey Wright on electric and acoustic guitars, and of course driving the band sound is Brian Hudson on drums.

I enjoyed “Seventy Eight,” its rhythmic approach offers a deep groove, and guitarist Trey Wright lends his clean electric sound, with solid attack – joined by Sam Skelton in a solid harmonic elevation of the melody. Hudson’s ability to create textural diversity, uplifting the sections of the tune, while Skelton colorizes with a solo that offers the muscularity of Brecker, and the precision of Redman all rolled into one is unmatched.

Another winner for me was “Ybor City,” the Latin percussion adds a nice focal point for the tune, and Hudson traverses once again many layered change-ups to keep the elevation of the tune moving. This time it is Hoexter that offers and flowing, inspired solo joined by Skelton once again for a stirring soprano solo. The group unites for a subdued sound and moody solo by Adam Nitti, followed by an unabashed solo by Hudson. Quick lines, creative ideas and flowing melodies all tied together by soulful solos with acute attention to chops, adds up to a welcomed listen.

Next Level is aptly titled, I look forward to Hudson’s next release, and what ideas he and his compadres come up with – certainly this is a seasoned outing, one I will savor until we meet again. - Jazz Sensibilities by Jeff Becker


Discography

2017 - Next Level
Executive Producer: Brian Hudson
Producer: Randy Hoexter
All songs composed by Brian Hudson & Randy Hoexter

Featuring:
Randy Hoexter - Keyboards & Piano
Adam Nitti - Bass
Joe Reda - Bass
Sam Skelton - Saxophones
Melvin Jones - Trumpet
Trey Wright - Guitar

Photos

Bio

Next Level is a jazz/fusion and funk band formed by drummer and studio musician Brian Hudson. The debut album, which was released worldwide on August 18, 2017, features an all-star group of musicians including Randy Hoexter (Randy Hoexter Group/Mike Stern/Dave Weckl) on keys, Adam Nitti (Dave Weckl Band/Carrie Underwood/Kenny Loggins) on bass, Joe Reda (Earl Klugh/Larry Carlton) on bass, Sam Skelton (Quincy Jones/Barry Manilow/Brian Bromberg) on saxophones, Melvin Jones (Tyler Perry/Joe Gransden Big Band) on trumpet and jazz guitarist Trey Wright (Squat).

Since its release on August 18, Next Level, peaked at #3 on Roots Music Report’s Jazz Chart and climbed to #7 on the NACC Top 30 Jazz Chart. It has gained the interest of radio stations and listeners from all around the world including in the U.S., Argentina, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Philippines, Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom and many more

Next Level, available worldwide at iTunes, Amazon, Apple Music, CD Baby, etc.  Next Level blends jazz, jazz/fusion, funk and Latin with a contemporary jazz underpinning.

What other's say about Next Level:

Lemon Wire by Dodie Miller-Gould – “The release is a must-listen for new and veteran jazz fans.”

Jazz Weekly by George W. Harris – “Optimistic, and a fresh breath of air for a genre that is sadly overlooked these days.”

Contemporary Fusion Reviews by Dick Metcalf – “debut CD’s seldom contain a full set of tunes that are ALL “picks”… just listen to the full-body on one of my favorite jazz pieces (yet) in 2017, “Seventy Eight.”

The Vinyl Anachronist by Marc Phillips – “This collection of originals from Hudson and keyboard player Randy Hoexter is bristling with pure energy and excitement, and the whole album is executed with such precision that you’ll understand why these two gentlemen are so dedicated to this genre. Hudson is no wallflower, either–his drumming is up front and center, always full of complex rhythms and textures. From an audiophile point of view, his work is a tutorial on dynamic contrast.” 




Band Members