Inside look: Bassist Brandi Disterheft

by | Feb 17, 2017 | A&E

Adam Bernards & Brandon Choghri
A&E Reporters

Brandi Disterheft’s latest album Blue Canvas has earned the young bassist her third Juno nomination. Inspired by legendary jazz trio records of the past, Disterheft’s album is another step forward for the Humber music graduate.

“When I was a little girl, I was overwhelmed with this passion for music… I still have that fire,” Disterheft told Et Cetera in an interview.

That passion is what she was trying to convey on Blue Canvas, which received critical acclaim when it debuted in May 2016. She also said that she drew on inspiration from ancient Greek mythology and philosophers like Plato, remarking their idea of a “divine madness and frenzy that overwhelms artists” resonated strongly with her.

That frenzy comes across in her fiery and dynamic style, which she says she’s learning to augment with the help of legendary bassist Ron Carter in New York City.

After graduating from Humber College and playing professionally for several years, Disterheft started working with Carter, the most-recorded jazz bassist in history and a former associate of Miles Davis. Carter is a renowned teacher, and has helped Disterheft introduce a more delicate side to her playing.

“It was a real honour, it was very inspiring to be around him,” Disterheft said of the experience. She also says it’s very important to her that she strikes a balance between the two styles.

“Sometimes you need a little bit of that crazy fire, sometimes I get a little bored when I watch bass players who are so absolutely perfect and tender.”

Disterheft won a Juno in 2008 for her first album, Debut, and was also nominated in 2014 for Gratitude.

Disterheft looks back fondly on her time at Humber College and still keeps in touch with fellow nominee Shirantha Beddage, also nominated for a Juno this year.

“It’s wonderful, I’m so glad that Shirtantha is being recognized,” she says of her former classmate’s nomination. For several years, Disterheft’s working band was mostly Humber graduates, and she says she hopes to collaborate with saxophonist Beddage in the future.

Disterheft will play the illustrious Montreal Jazz Festival later this year, and will also be travelling to the UK in May for more performances promoting Blue Canvas.