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Brian Clancy: Busy young man with a sax

March 22, 2012
  • Tuesday, the Brain Clancy Quartet plays Tuesday jazz night at Sweetwater Grill & Tavern, 115 S. Elm, Denton. The group

    Brad Leali joining Brain Clancy in "Fried Bananas" Tuesday at Sweetwater Grill & Tavern.

    drew supportive friends, colleagues, former University of North Texas faculty and recording professionals, packing Sweetwater’s patio. After playing selections from Clancy’s recently released CD – “Introducing Brian Clancy” – Clancy invited UNT Jazz Prof. Brad Leali up on stage to closed the show with “Fried Bananas.”

Brain Clancy is on the fast (musical) track after cutting eight CD tracks with his band members back in July, 2011. Using his own take on styles that have influenced him – everything from Fats Waller, Nat King Cole and John Coltrane and to the forefront of jazz today, Clancy’s CD showcases his musical proficiency.

Whether he is heard on saxophone, flute, or clarinet one can tell there is meaning behind every note.

On March 6, 2012, just three months after graduating with a degree in Jazz from University of North Texas, Clancy was in the spotlight at Dan’s Silverleaf in Denton, for the official “Introducing Brian Clancy” CD release show.

The recording takes shape

“One day UNT professor Rich DeRosa came out and told me I should make a recording while I have the advantage of playing with familiar musicians, and following through was the best decision I have ever made,” said Clancy. “I began brainstorming what music I wanted to record and who my all-star band would be. I teamed up with a good friend Sean P Jones, a drummer with whom I played in the One O’clock Lab Band at UNT, and he worked as my producer and sound engineer for the project. I also partnered with UNT alumnus Stockton Helbing to have the album released under his record label, Armored Records.”

Brain Clancy and Quartet keyboardist pianist Roberto Verastegui.

Clancy chose some of the best and brightest for his band – pianist Roberto Verastegui, “a phenomenal artist with whom I also played in the One O’clock Band;” bassist Jonathan Fisher, “a Dallas ‘heavy’ whom I used to go out and listen to since I was 18;” drummer Justin Heaverin, “a close friend from UNT with whom I share the same musical vision and the same birthday;” trumpeter Li Xiaochuan, “a native of Shanghai, China, I met during his time  pursuing a graduate degree at UNT;” and vocalist Kathryn Christie, “another close friend from UNT who has a beautiful voice that brings color to the music.”

In mid-July, Clancy and his band members spent two long days at On Parr Studios in Dallas doing

Brian Clancy Quartet bassist Jonathan Fisher and drummer Justin Heaverin.

multiple takes of the eight songs for the album. The repertoire included two original compositions of Clancy’s, Thomas ‘Fats’ Waller‘s classic “Jitterbug Waltz”, an odd-meter rendition of the standard “Alone Together”, two John Coltrane compositions, a beautiful ballad from the Nat King Cole songbook, and a unique arrangement of Jackie MacLean’s blues, “Dr. Jackle”.

  •  The album is now available in Denton at Recycled Books/Music, Mad World Records, and Pender Music Co., as well as online at and the iTunes music store.

Winning the “NASA” competition

During four days around Saint Patrick’s Day, Clancy attended the North American Saxophone Alliance conference  at Arizona State University in Tempe – where he took 1st Place in the ‘College Jazz Soloist’ category.

Every other year the North American Saxophone Alliance holds a conference at a different music school; Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona hosted the 2012 cenference. The four-day event features dozens of performances, lectures, and masterclasses ranging from classical to contemporary ( and new pieces premier ) and jazz. The conference also includes competitions in the areas of ‘High School Soloist’ ‘Composition’ ‘College Soloist’ ‘College Quartet’ and ‘College Jazz Soloist’.

“This year I won 1st place, and two years ago I won 3rd place,” said Clancy. “The competition aspect of an art form put me in a strange place, because I felt that each of the other eleven semi-finalists sounded wonderful and individual. However, everyone was very humble and the experience of meeting them was a great. Now I have a handful of new friends from across the country and I know our musical paths will be weaving through one another in the future.”

In the ‘College Jazz Soloist’ category there were twelve semi-finalist selected to compete at the conference based on recordings submitted in the preliminary round. The semi-finalists performed three selections of standard jazz repertoire with a rhythm section made up of ASU students. The three judges selected six players to advance to the final round each playing four new selections with the rhythm section. Winners were then selected and awarded with $750 – 3rd place, $1000 – 2nd place, and $1500 – 1st place. The French reed/mouthpiece company Vandoren sponsored the prizes .

Brian Clancy

A native of Southlake, Texas, Brian started playing saxophone at age 11 under the instruction of Gio Washington-Wright, a local freelance musician, teacher, and a graduate of the University of North Texas. In addition to studying with Gio, one of the most integral parts of Clancy’s musical upbringing was participating in the Carroll High School jazz bands, under the direction of David Pierce and Josh Fox. The influence of these three teachers inspired Clancy to learn more and constantly push himself beyond his own limits.

Following in his teachers’ footsteps Brian decided to go to the University of North Texas to pursue a degree in Jazz Studies. He spent three years in the school’s top jazz ensemble, the Grammy nominated One O’clock Lab Band, a dream he had since first seeing the band perform at age 14. During his time in the band, Brian had the opportunity to travel to Thailand, Ireland, and England. He also performed alongside notable musicians such as Dave Brubeck, James Carter, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Lyle Mayes, and  shared the stage with the Houston Symphony Orchestra.

  • Currently, Brian Clancy plays with a number of big bands in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, a couple of unique cover bands, and he teaches privately. He will spend the summer in Anaheim, Calif., playing in the Disneyland All-American College Band. In the fall he plans to move out to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a woodwind player in the jazz scene and recording industry.
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