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Chats / Brian Newman: NYC’s Coolest Jazz Man

Brian Newman rules the Manhattan music scene. Not only is he a master trumpet player, but he’s also a spectacular singer and the leading man in Lady Gaga’s band. We sat down with the coolest jazz player in town to talk career, style, city favorites and more.

courtesy of Brian Newman
courtesy of Brian Newman
courtesy of Pinterest

How did you get into jazz?

I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and I found jazz as a young trumpet player around the age of 12. The first time I played the trumpet was in the back seat of my mom’s car on the way home from the music store in sixth grade. I was drawn to it because of its improvisational nature. Plus, I loved listening to Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis records; my mind was always blown! Chet Baker and Kenny Dorham were some of my other early CDs back then, but following music off a page was totally new for me and I really wanted to learn all I could.

Tell us about your exciting debut album!

I am so excited to be getting our first debut album out into the world! It was recorded at Avatar Studios in New York City with Dae Bennett in the control room. We were so lucky to have such a great engineer and all-around great guy recording us. The band and I met Dae while working with him on the “Cheek to Cheek” record with Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. You can expect some unique arrangements from The Great American Songbook, originals and even a Willie Nelson tune on the record! Our album, “Eyes On The City” is in pre-sales right now. We have vinyl, t-shirts, test pressing, Hatch poster prints from Nashville and lots of other great perks to go with the album, too.

courtesy of Gaga Daily
courtesy of Gaga Daily

For those who don’t know, you are Lady Gaga’s band leader. When did you start working with her?

We have been friends for almost 10 years. We both worked at a bar called St. Jerome’s on Rivington Street in the LES (now closed). When she was in NY she would come out and sit in with us at the Oak Room, Duane Park and Rose Bar. The vibe was always so good musically. It was a true honor for me and my band to help arrange, record and tour with Lady Gaga and Mr. Tony Bennett!

BN Lady Gaga

courtesy of Cheek to Cheek

You’ve been in NYC for a while now. What do you love most about the city?

I love the people, the pace and the friendships. This town really can make you or break you, but it’s also a place that is wide open for you to build your dreams into realities if you strive to work hard and do better every day. There’s no place like it, baby.

BN New York


Now for the lightning round. What’s your favorite restaurant for:

Date night: The Rainbow Room

Special occasion: The Django at the Roxy Hotel

Casual: Three of Cups

Italian: John’s

Japanese: NOBU 57

Burger: Belle Reve

Mediterranean: Gato

Dessert: Macao Trading Co

Brunch: The Roxy Hotel

Steak: Keen’s

Pizza: Spumoni Gardens

Family: Garguilos in Coney Island

Cocktails: The Django at the Roxy Hotel


courtesy of Cool Cleveland + Style Like U
courtesy of Cool Cleveland + Style Like U
courtesy of Style Like U

Onstage you have a classy, old-school New York style. Offstage you rock tattoos and leathers. Tell us where you shop for your wardrobe.

An old friend and amazing tailor named Craig Robinson is a master at making people look good in a custom suit. All of his pieces are made by him, by hand, in Brooklyn. The craftsmanship is truly all in the details. The rock and roll gear are things I’ve amassed over years. Vintage t-shirts and well-worn jeans, a pair of off-white chuck tailors and all-black Vans are always a must. The leather I’ve been wearing lately is from the new Diesel Black Gold line. It’s a whole new brand with some really rockin’ gear.

Courtesy of Kristin Chalmers
Courtesy of Kristin Chalmers

Speaking of style, that’s a beautiful wedding ring. Tell us about your wife. How did you two meet?

We met years ago when I was a sideman for a burlesque troupe. We played in a festival she produces called the New York Burlesque Festival. Angie, my wife, is one of the most premier burlesque dancers in the world. She travels all over performing at events and festivals. In 2005, we had a date. Well, I knew it was a date; she didn’t. Mets game, Shea stadium, 4 rows behind home plate. I played it way too cool and we didn’t go out again for almost 4 years. We’ve been together ever since and 8 months ago, we welcomed our beautiful baby girl, Sistilia, into our family.

What’s your favorite venue to perform in?

We have performed at so many beautiful places it’s hard to pick one. Copenhagen, Cap Roig, Umbria Jazz Fest, NOLA Jazz Fest, Royal Albert Hall In London, Hollywood Bowl, Radio City, The Rainbow Room.

courtesy of Fandalism

What about places you’d like to perform at?

I would love to go back to the Cotton Club in Tokyo and perform again. I still haven’t been to The Nomad in New York City and I’d love to perform in Vegas again, too!

Where can we find you serenading and tooting your horn?

We always perform at The Gramercy Park Hotel on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:00pm – 10:00pm. We also travel and hit The Rainbow Room, private events and all sorts of gigs with Lady Gaga on the jazz side.

courtesy of Steven Klein
courtesy of Steven Klein

How are you redefining jazz performances?

Jazz, to me, is such an amazing form of music with so many different styles. We particularly draw from the Great American Songbook and try to push the envelope with the music we play by making it accessible to everyone, not just jazz fans. Our audiences are all ages and creeds. I just love performing! It makes me feel alive when the crowd is into it and everybody is feeling right! Swinging baby! Always!

Get social with Brian / @BrianNewmanNY

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