This week, Ira spoke with Trumpeter and singer Brian Newman, back with his late-night Vegas residency, “Brian Newman: AFTER DARK, “ at the NoMAD Library (August 12-14 and August 19-21). In this 30-minute episode of Talk About Las Vegas, Brian talks about his passion for live performing; having a good time in life and music; opening jazz to the world; why he loves the late-night hang; how he met his wife Angie Pontani, the Italian Stallionette, dancer and burlesque sensation; why he surrounds himself with people who are better than himself; when he realized he could create his own melodies; why he considers The Great American Songbook an essential part of his performances; his amazement about working with great singers and musicians; and being part of the historic Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett show at Radio City Music Hall for Bennett’s last public performance.
Brian moved to New York City in 2003 to pursue his dreams of being a musician. After working his fair share of odd jobs he wound up scoring a residency with his quartet at the famed Plaza Hotel. He quickly became a mainstay in the NYC jazz scene with additional weekly gigs at The Oak Room and the Gramercy Park Hotel’s Rose Bar, and he began performing regularly as a sideman with various groups at clubs like Smalls, Cleo’s, and Fat Cat.
While maintaining a steady stream of gigs, Brian also struck up a friendship with Stefani Germanotta – more famously known as Lady Gaga. The two maintained a wonderful, working relationship over the years and when she took some time off from the pop world to indulge in her love of jazz with Tony Bennett on 2014’s “Cheek to Cheek,” Gaga brought in Newman and his quartet to give the album a more modern dynamic.
Gaga has also brought Newman on as the bandleader and arranger for the Jazz & Piano show of her Las Vegas Residency at The Park Theater. Both the “Cheek to Cheek” album and subsequent tour exposed Newman and the quartet to millions of new fans, but it also demonstrated their ability to Bennett’s sons Dae, and Danny. Dae produced their debut album “Eyes on the City” and after becoming President and CEO of the Verve Label Group, Danny signed them to Verve for the release of Newman’s debut album, SHOWBOAT.