I have decided to take a little bit of a break from some intense writing and instead devote some time to writing about people that I hold dear in my heart and inspire me. Lots of change has been going on in my life recently and I have been more intentional about spending time with those that really pour into my life. Writing about these people is my way of expressing my heart of gratitude towards them.
There are a handful (when I say a handful, I literally mean only a few) of people I have come across in my lifetime that have completely captured and intrigued my soul. I have only associated the idea of soulmate with a romantic relationship but as I do more research on the topic, I am finding that it translates to all types of relationships and this particular one possesses many qualities of a soulmate type relationship. I still find it funny that I associate this type of relationship with a male friend as that of a soulmate type but it is what it is. Love is love. Words out, I am in love with you Brian...
I am starting this series off with the extremely talented individual, Brian Ward. Words cannot describe how I feel about him and how much respect I have for him, both as a musician and as a solid human. Sounds silly to be writing out my thoughts and feelings about Brian but there truly is something special about this dude.
Brian and I met years ago here in Los Angeles through one of Downbeat LA’s groups, AMFM, and quickly hit it off. I remember shortly after that, I noticed we were both playing in several big bands around town, mostly Ron Kong’s Big Band at the time where I was playing the fourth chair and every time I’d look up, him and I would happen to look at each other and laugh. That’s when I knew we were meant for each other Brian. Then, it turned in to me trolling him hard with my phone by recording him with various filters. I have too many photos and videos of him in my phone that I am saving for the right moment. Maybe some day I’ll create an Instagram profile dedicated to filtered faces of Brian Ward.
Brian has always intrigued me. He is a very particular guy which I have learned to really appreciate the more time I spend with him. I never viewed it as a negative trait but more so recently as a trait that I aspire to have. His particular ways give him structure, which I always felt I lacked, that I believe are what make him as great as he is. I wrote about the story of carpooling with him last year to a gig up in NorCal in a previous blog post. This car ride positively changed my perspective on being more particular in not only the music I take in but just the information I choose to take in, in general. I started to focus more on what I wanted to portray in my art instead of just taking anything and everything in. I have Brian to thank for that. Up until recently, he had no idea that moment changed my perspective on specific areas in my life.
Two months ago, I decided to reach out and ask him if he would like to hang out. I figured I could learn a few things from him. I presented it as a hang with the idea of maybe working on music together but really, I had no agenda. I just wanted to hang with the infamous Brian Ward. I went over to his house where we sat outside on the bench and talked for two hours. I shared a lot of my life with him and he did the same. In that moment is when I realized that Brian is real and vulnerable, not that I thought he wasn’t before but to be a part of it first hand was something special. I will forever cherish that moment he allowed me to connect with him on that level.
Kind of like me, he’s a very mellow guy. This trait is the one that I can easily connect with most because it’s who I am. Brian is thoughtful. There is a lot of depth and a lot more to him than meets the eye. Just spending time with him has, weirdly enough, taught me a lot about myself. Brian writes everything down. When I say everything, I literally mean everything. Just watching him do that has gotten me to settle my mind down and write out all of my thoughts on paper. I shared with Brian that I had taken a break from a lot of stuff in my life due to some personal stuff going on that affected everything for me. He graciously gave me a copy of The Artist’s Way that I began to read. Going through the book is slowly getting me to clearly think through and articulate my inner creative self. Spending time with him in a vulnerable state has gotten me to think deeper about everything in my life and realize that I am capable of much more than just being a trumpet player.
I had a moment at home to myself where I laughed because I ordered a pencil pouch from Amazon and when I came home to it, opened it and filled it with all of my writing supplies, I had this very satisfying feeling about this pencil pouch. I laughed because it’s the first time in my life where I get excited about something so simple and if there was one person that was going to appreciate this feeling it would be Brian. Sure enough when I told him about this, he laughed and related to the moment by sharing his experiences with buying writing supplies.
Brian is an amazing human but is an even more amazing musician. Ten of me would equal one-eighth of him. He is ridiculously good. Every time I hear him do his thing, I can’t help but smile because I feel honored to know such a great musician. I only wish I could keep up with him and truth is I can’t but I can only keep trying. He makes it look so easy. I appreciate his musicianship because I know and can see all of the hard work he puts in. He is one of the hardest working people I know which is a very inspiring trait to have. Not only is his work ethic inspiring, his natural instinct is on a whole other level. Brian is going to blow up soon. I know it. All of his hard work is slowly paying off and will soon be up there with the greatest of greats. He is certainly an elite player in town and everyone is going to know Brian Ward’s name. He’s going to be up there with the best of the best creating as he is meant to do.
Well, after that first hang, we wrote a tune. I had a melody stuck in my mind for six months. Brian filled in the holes with the goods. It was humbling getting to see him in his element with that creative flow. He just kept going. I’m sure we’ll share that with the world one of these days as I am pretty excited about it.
I waited to post this because I wanted to include a little bit about Brian’s solo ep, Redwoods, after it was released. I had the pleasure of listening to it twice through about a month before it was released. I remember the first time he showed me and was just in aw of how raw it was. I could hear Brian’s soul poured in to this music. The second time I heard it, still not mastered, I thought to myself, “This perfectly represents Brian’s heart and soul. This is a great work of art.”
It has been a few days now since the release of his first ep and I’ve listened to it about ten times through now and am loving every bit of it. Sure, I am a little biased because he is a close friend of mine but as I listen to it objectively, I still feel the same about it. His music is so simple yet so full of complexities. You can hear his thoughts as you listen through. It isn’t something he just overdubbed to get a “perfect” take. It is all one take of his truest and honest self which I appreciate. I highly recommend putting on a good pair of cans and submerge yourself into his music.
Here is a link to his work: https://bwardmusic.bandcamp.com/album/redwoods. It is also online on streaming services but I highly suggest you buy it and support him.
The second time I hung out with Brian, I was at his house for nine hours where we talked for about seven of those. He was willing to show me more of his work from the past. Some of this work is music that nobody else has heard except for himself. Once again, I was both blown away by his creativity and inspired to go home to create my own. That’s Brian for you. He inspires you through his work and he isn’t even trying to. I wrestled a little bit with him (physically, in the mud) on the idea of releasing all of this goodness out for everyone to see. After a little bit of discussing the idea, he was like, “you know what, I’m going to!” It immediately got me all pumped for this. Then came something super unexpected for me. After lots of talking about his work, he asked if I would like to produce his next album of music. I was like “uh, me?” I am nowhere even close to being qualified to hang with Brian let alone to produce music with him. He has plenty of friends that are way more qualified than me but for whatever reason he chose me. Nonetheless, I am extremely honored and am at home right now studying away so that I can best be of service to him. I can’t wait for this next batch of art he is going to release. It’s going to be amazeballs.
I am incredibly proud of Brian and am excited to see where he is going to go next on this creative journey of his. I am not the only one to think Brian is awesome. Every person he comes in contact with can say the very same which is a true testament of his musicianship and character. I am deeply humbled to call him a very good friend of mine and am also excited to continue learning from this fantastic human being.