In-Depth Interview With A Fascinating Jazz Artist Brian Ligon

Flamboyant and fun, jazz is always hard to define. It practically has “experimentation” written all over it, and very few artists dive into this vast ocean of unknown with a goal to innovate and revive. We’ve had the greatest pleasure getting to know Brian Ligon, an artist with extensive background, whose recent album is guaranteed to shake our listeners to the core. Nowhere But Here II includes thirteen carefully crafted pieces which you can explore down below. Enjoy the read!

Nowhere But Here II is out! Congratulations, we’re really looking forward to hearing about how the record came together! How was it like collaborating with so many talented people like Jim “Pinky” Beeman?

Thanks! It was great collaborating with the other talented people to complete Nowhere But Here II, this project would not be what it is without the musicians, engineers, and industry professionals who all contributed to it. I first started working with Pinky toward the end of high school through a mentorship program with the Royal Theater Boys and Girls Club in my hometown, St. Pete, FL. Bill Edwards donated a professional recording studio in the Royal Theater Boys and Girls Club to allow kids who had music aspirations to learn and explore the arts. Since then Pinky has been a mentor and my go to master engineer, he is who first introduced me to audio engineering. I began to intern at Big3 Studios in college during summers for my Recording Industry Studies degree, during that time I learned the business of a recording studio and professional audio engineering. Pinky has been a major influence in my development as a music producer.

I was first introduced to Trevor Fletcher, President of Criteria Recording Studios, after graduating dental school during my dental residency when I started booking studio time at The Hit Factory Criteria, Miami, FL, while producing music for Young Money Cash Money artists, Lil Wayne, Drake, Nicki Minaj, and Birdman. Trevor has been beyond beneficial to my music career, he’s also connected me with engineers, producers, and musicians for various projects. 

I began composing the music for Nowhere But Here II in my home studio. When I contacted Trevor to book time for Nowhere But Here II at Criteria, I needed an engineer and a versatile guitarist for the project. I initially was seeking Barry Gibb and Slash for some other records. It was then Trevor recommended Barry Gibb’s son Stephen Gibb for guitar, and connected me with Carlos Alvarez to engineer Nowhere But Here II. Stephen was awesome to collaborate with, his guitar talent, skills, and versatility blew my mind during our sessions at Criteria. I consulted with Carlos before our sessions to discuss what I wanted to accomplish and the sonic profile of the album. It was great working with Carlos, he definitely recorded the sound I was striving for with this album. 

We recorded Stephen’s guitars over a few weekend sessions, during a session break I was introduced to Doug Emery, a very talented pianist, he was working at the studio with another artist at the time. After completing the sessions with Stephen, I returned home and evaluated the music. After my analysis I contacted Trevor and Carlos to book studio time for the guitar edits and mixes. After Carlos and I finished working on the guitars I contacted Trevor, Carlos, and Doug to book a few more sessions at Criteria to add some piano to a couple of tracks, and finalize the album. Doug provided some beautiful piano on the title track Nowhere But Here II and All I Need. Trevor then connected me with Javier Valverde to engineer the final mixes to prepare the album for mastering with Pinky. It was great working with Javier for this album also. I’m more than appreciative for being able to work with everybody who contributed to this album, engineers, assistants, musicians, and industry professionals. I think we made something special with this one.

You have a very interesting background! You’re a dentist as well as a musician! How do you manage to practice both professions at the same time? I know it’s cliché, but you’ve heard of the famous phrase “Jack of many, master of none.” How do you make sure to give your hundred percent in both fields?

I get asked that question a lot, almost as frequent as I’m asked something about my height. I’m 6’9, and the weather up here is nice. The ability to manage both professions happened over time. Music has always been a part of my life since I can remember, just like sports and education. I started music lessons at the age of 5 focusing on the piano, then alto sax in middle school, then I taught myself music production on my Yamaha Motif ES7 synthesizer during high school. There was always an emphasis on the value of education by my family when I was growing up, both of my parents are dentists, my father died in 2017, and my mother still practices with me. Whether education, music, or sports, I was taught accountability, to be responsible for myself and the effort I put forth, also instilled was nothing great will come without hard work and sacrifice. Learning how to prioritize time management was crucial, I’m ambitious with great aspirations. As a healthcare provider I practice The Golden Rule and I try to do the same with my music productions by creating unique quality music.

Who would you like to collaborate with in the future? What kind of dreams do you have concerning your music career? 

I’m working on producing a Beyoncé album, that’s been a long time goal of mine. Lil Wayne and Drake albums are also on the to do list, there are also the influential legends like Earth, Wind, & Fire, Quincy Jones, Dr. Dre, Mannie Fresh, Timbaland, Missy Elliot, Eminem, Carrie Underwood, Usher, Bruno Mars, Slash, Metallica, and more. GRAMMYS and records sold are goals I have for my music career, I still believe that’s the best recognition and accomplishments in the music industry, I know the trophies and plaques would look great in my home studio. I plan to continue to produce music for myself and other artists, and I’m also learning composition for film and tv.

If you could compose the original score of any movie, which one would you choose and why?

The Godfather, it’s my favorite movie, and the theme is one of the most recognizable pieces of music worldwide.

Nowhere But Here II is the second album of your original recordings! It’s instrumental Jazz with a modern touch! Would you ever consider matching your music with lyrics? 

I first got into music production from requests to compose music for schoolmates who wanted to sing or rap. I’m a trained jazz musician, that’s really how the Nowhere But Here recordings came about, my love of music, and creating original music that encompasses all of my musical influences. I have remixed some popular songs with my modern jazz style. I’m working on producing albums and music for other artists’ with lyrics.

What are some of the difficulties you face while composing music? How is your creative process? What is your favorite musical composition of all time? 

The biggest difficulty for me is time. Being a dentist and private practice owner is demanding, but music is a passion that always finds its way in my life, whether just chillin’ listening to music, working or doing other things with music in the background, or composing and producing. In my life music has its way of inspiring me all the time. My creative process usually starts with some form of inspiration, whether it’s a feeling I have, composing for specific purpose, composing for film or tv, an artist request, then it’s me sitting at my Motif in my home studio searching for the sounds to make it come to life. My favorite musical composition is Earth, Wind, & Fire – That’s the Way of the World.

How many instruments do you play? Do you remember what inspired you to learn in the first place? What do you think about all the emerging software tools? Do they make your work easier or more complicated?

I play piano, alto sax, synthesizer, and guitar. I was first inspired to learn by my parents putting me into piano lessons, playing music has always been something I enjoyed. I think the constant evolving is necessary and great, new software, instruments, virtual instruments, and technology in music are what interested me in the first place. Just like the constant evolving in dental technology, I’m always learning something new. The advancement of technology definitely makes my work more efficient as well as complex.