Catch A Groove -The first time I heard of you was on EJ Strickland’s record “In This Day”, how did you hook up with him?
Brandee - You know the music world is so small! I'm so sure I knew EJ before he knew me. Just from seeing him playing in bands -- I saw him for the first time probably in 2002-2003 playing with the trombonist Steve Davis, in Hartford Connecticut, then met him later at the Jazz Standard and finally became friends after bumping into him at after one of Ravi Coltrane's gigs.
Catch A Groove - When you think of harpists, the most logical influence is Alice Coltrane, who else influenced you?
Brandee - Of course. Dorothy Ashby was an incredible jazz harpist out of Detroit. You actually hear much of her music on rap and R&B songs today, because producers sample her music (mostly from the album Afro-Harping) left and right. She was incredible and has so much recorded music. Look her up!
Catch A Groove - I definitely will! Also, you appeared on Ravi Coltrane’s “Blending Times”, an sorely underrated record. How did you link up with him?
Brandee - Upon his Mom's passing in '07, Ravi Coltrane reached out to me to take part in a huge musical memorial that was held at St. John the Divine in Harlem. That is how we first met, and was a pivotal point in my career.
Catch A Groove - Were you a little nervous, considering who his Mother was?
Brandee - Absofreakinglutely. It's just so sensitive in so many ways. 1st and foremost, because this is someone's mother...the most important person in his life, who had recently passed. Just a gentle, fragile, and sensitive situation that I had to be conscious of. 2ndly, the self inflicted pressure to try and do her music justice. I did make myself sick.
Catch A Groove - Throughout the Coltrane family, there are varying degrees of spirituality in their music, how would you describe your music?
Brandee - There is an honest, human quality that is consistent in my playing, so more than anything else I would describe my music as honest. My favorite Alice Coltrane composition is "Turiya & Ramakrishna" and I can listen to it at any time. There's this human, honest, spiritual quality to it that brings a balance -- the same balance I hope my music can bring to listeners.
Catch A Groove - Aside from Ravi, You’ve worked with some of my favorite musicians like Kenny Garrett and Jeff “Tain” Watts, what were those experiences like?
Brandee - I must say that it has been nothing but a blessing to have worked with so many incredible musicians. Sometimes the experience is surreal and I feel like I don't deserve to be on stage with such Masters. Kenny Garrett was probably one of the first professionals with whom I worked, and I was in college and I was SHY. SHY. SHY. I'm a little less timid now :)
Catch A Groove - If there is one musician you could work with today, who would that be?
Brandee - Just one? That's not fair. Really, not fair. Ahmad Jamal.
Catch A Groove - You’ve worked with hip-hop artists like Common, how do other genres of music influence your writing?
Brandee - I grew up listening to hip hop and r&b, reggae, soul music etc. so naturally that is all in me. I'm all about bringing my ancient instrument into all of those genres, in the best ways that I can.
Catch A Groove - When you’re not writing or performing, what are you listening to?
Brandee - Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, Alice Coltrane, Robert Glasper, Dorothy Ashby, Ravel...list goes on.
Catch A Groove - When can we expect a full length album from you?
Brandee - Soon, soon, soon! Currently writing, so 2012 for sure :-)
Catch A Groove - That’s great! I believe the future is very bright for you. Much success to you!