Ronald Bruner Jr. Talks Jazz, 'West Coast Get Down' + More [Interview]
There are quite a few famous families in the music business: the Jacksons, the Braxtons, the Debarges, the Isleys and the Leverts to name some off top of the dome. But, unless you’re a true music geek for knowing who’s who, you might not yet know of the Bruner Bunch. The Grammy Award winning family of musicians consist of keyboardist Jameel Bruner, formerly of The Internet; Stephen Bruner, a celebrated bassist whose recent project Drunk reunites him with To Pimp a Butterfly star Kendrick Lamar and father, Ronald Bruner Sr., a drummer who has worked with Diana Ross, The Temptations and Gladys Knight.
Bruner Jr., a member of the West Coast Get Down collective, acquired strong musical knowledge that enabled him to perform with artists such as Wayne Shorter and Ron Carter. With credits longer than a giraffe’s neck, Ronald Bruner Jr. has remained one of the go-to-performers for musicians looking for a diversified style. With his debut album, Triumph out on March 3, the soulful romp features childhood friend Kamasi Washington, ingenious rap lyricist Mac Miller and jazz legend George Duke Continuing to build his rep as a dynamic performer and genre-redefiner — Ronald Bruner Jr. deserves to have his name amongst the greats.
We sat down with the older brother of Brainfeeder‘s bassist sensation, Thundercat, and spoke with him about his West Coast Get Down family, his upcoming tour and more. Enjoy!
Okayplayer: How would you describe your album to someone that has never heard it before?
Ronald Bruner Jr.: My music is a way of you seeing the many colors of who I am. My normal is crazy. Everybody has the same first inclination when they hear my music: there’s too much going on. But that is me. I was playing heavy progressive bebop and punk rock at the same time. Then I’d play in a funk group acting like I didn’t know about either. I can’t write a record with a continuous line through it. That’s not who I am. Now, I am thankful that people say it is expressive and it is different.
OKP: Tell me about producing your album the same time Kamasi Washington made The Epic.
RB: I have known Kamasi Washington since I was born. We started The Young Jazz Giants along with Thundercat and Cameron Graves. The Original Four. At the KLS sessions, all of the West Coast Get Down were together with our ideas and skeletal structures of our music individually. Because we were in the room together, it gave us an opportunity for us all to touch each others projects.
OKP: When did you notice success of the L.A. musicians in the West Coast Get Down?