Brandon Howard is the harmonic center of Urban Jazz Coalition’s unique fusion of musical styles. The sensational keyboard virtuoso was recently hailed as “a young Ramsey Lewis” by Sandy Shore, President of Smoothjazz.com.
Brandon’s romance with music began at age 6 when he started playing the piano by ear. He could play bits (sometimes entire pieces) of music he heard from the radio, television, and movies. Recognizing her son’s immense talent, Brandon’s mother enrolled the young protege’ in classical piano lessons. His first piano teacher was Dr. Elva Michael, whom he studied with for about 8 years. He later developed an interest in jazz and went on to study with instructors, Andy Knight and the late great Hank Marr.
At age 12, Brandon was introduced to synthesizers and began to compose and arrange his own music. His dad was instrumental in landing him his first professional gig at Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base when he was 16. Brandon’s unique ability allowed him the opportunity to audition at the prestigious Capital University Conservatory of Music, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Music Degree in Jazz Studies. He credits his experience at Capital as helping him fine tune his skills as a player, songwriter, and arranger.
Brandon’s songwriting ability has been highlighted during his tenure with UJC, as he has written a number of the group’s most popular songs, including “After Dusk,” which reached #45 on the national smooth jazz airplay charts in 2002. His playing and compositional style is influenced by keyboard legends like Joe Sample, George Duke, Jeff Lorber, and Herbie Hancock, Brandon’s personal favorite. Those influences can be heard during his performances with UJC.
Brandon is one of the most in demand keyboard players in the central-Ohio area. Outside of giving private piano lessons from home, he maintains an extremely busy schedule which includes his teaching duties with Columbus City Schools, traveling across the country with UJC, and his weekly appearances at the elegant Von Maur at the Polaris Fashion Mall.
When asked how he can keep such a hectic pace, Brandon simply says, ” I do it because it’s all about the music….it’s what I love….it’s who I am.”