Pianist/organist/vocalist/accordionist Gary Brunotte was born and raised in a small town in Minnesota, he started taking accordion lessons when he was nine and debuted as a professional musician at a New Year's Eve job when he was eleven. He switched to organ and performed with R & B and rock and roll bands as a teenager. He discovered jazz in the late 1960's and switched to piano while attending Berklee College of Music in the 1970's.
Today Gary specializes in jazz standards, plus original compositions. He has recorded five CDs as leader. The first was a session with Eric Marienthal on sax, Jimmy Johnson on bass and Bill Berg on drums entitled "Yesterday's Dream." This 1993 release received excellent reviews in both JazzTimes and Billboard magazines. His second ("Conversations" in 2004) and third ("Smile" in 2005) recordings featured Gary on acoustic piano.
In 2007 Gary switched back to organ to record "Manic Moments" with several great local musicians from the Triangle. His fifth, "About Time," was recorded in 2008 as co-leader with a former Berklee classmate. It successfully made it on the Jazz Week charts receiving a good amount of airplay both nationally and internationally. It features Gary on organ, Gian Wiegner on guitar and various sidemen in the Boston and Raleigh/Durham areas. In recent years. Gary has focused on singing songs from the "Great American Songbook." He is also learned Final Cut Pro softare and you can click on the WHIMS tab to see/hear some of his handy work.
The following is a list of some of Gary's musical accomplishments:
- Taught at Berklee College of Music in Boston (1977-1980)
- Performed in concert with jazz greats Lionel Hampton, Larry Coryell, Mark Whitfield, Bobby Shew, the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, Byron Stripling and Shirley Witherspoon
- Performed solo piano in prestigious Hotels like the Copley Plaza in Boston and the Saint Paul Hotel in Minnesota
- Received a National Endowment for the Arts Grant to write and perform a suite for big band
- Graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Master of Music Jazz Studies degree from North Carolina Central University (2010)
- Founded Summit Music Publishing (1992) which sold original big band and combo compositions/arrangements to colleges across the country
"Brunotte is a crisp, indeed, intelligent player whose charts sizzle and yet leave plenty
of space for inspired soloing . . .
"I am a big Gary Brunotte fan. What I like best about him is the unpredictability of his imagination and his wit. Brunotte is one of very few keyboard players to whom it would occur to do a funky organ trio version of Jimmy Rowles "The Peacocks." And he is one of the few keyboard players who could make it work. He somehow adds grease and keeps the poetry."
(Contributing Music Editor, Stereophile; JazzTimes)
"Art and popular music combine on his palette to create a collage that represents tradition as thoroughly as it does today and tomorrow... he drives fiercely in places and simmers gently in others... lyricism and a sincere love for beautiful melody weave their threads through his sessions. He believes in rhythmic groove coupled with an obvious love for lyrical melody."
--- Jim Santella, (Jazz Journalist, for Cadence magazine & others)