Joe Barna Announces Sketches of Influence Live Recording at Middle C Jazz

by Mark Sullivan

As you know, drummer/composer/bandleader Joe Barna is bringing his band Sketches of Influence to Middle C Jazz to record a live album on March 13 – 14, 2020. This is certainly the first live recording to be produced at the club, and may be the first time that an artist from outside the Charlotte area has chosen to make an live recording in the city to be officially released and marketed as “recorded in Charlotte”.

Asked what he would like the Charlotte audience to know about his career up till this point, Barna replied:

“For the greater part of the past 15 years I have invested myself musically, financially and emotionally into encouraging the growth of jazz throughout upstate NY. I’ve done this by creating multiple concert series connecting the best musicians in NYC with the great musicians throughout upstate NY.

One of my primary focuses is and has always been to seek out young musicians who have yet to make themselves known and create opportunities for them to play with older more established artists. This is the way the art of jazz has traditionally nurtured itself and as an individual who believes strongly in traditional values I find passion and purpose in connecting these worlds together. It helps secure the future of this art form and gives the younger artists a sense of hope and direction.

Some of the other contributions I’ve gone out of my way to make are offering free drum lessons to those who can’t otherwise afford them, donate sticks/drums/drum heads/hardware and other equipment to schools in need and for the past 2 years I’ve headed up a weekly performance series where in the second set we invite musicians in the jazz community up to share their talents.

Much of this has been a labor of love, as there is not much pay for myself, but it has given me rewards far greater than any amount of money ever could.”

What is Sketches Of Influence?

“Sketches Of Influence was created on the idea that a musical composition can be a sketch, or sonic portrait of an influential individual. Every song I compose is a tribute to an important influence in my personal life. I write each piece with respect to the ways in which that particular person has directly affected my growth as a man and artist. My focus is to present beautiful, exciting, engaging and accessible original jazz compositions while maintaining the integrity of jazz musics rich history.”

Why did he decide to record the group at Middle C Jazz?

“This particular question is very easy to answer. Middle C Jazz is one of the most beautiful and well thought out venues in the country. It’s character is enchanting, the vibe is intimate, the staff is friendly, the management understands how to run a business with integrity and the support of both owner as well as the Charlotte community makes this venue a perfect destination for any individual looking to step outside themselves and into a world of pure musical fascination.

I’ll also add that Johnathan Gellman is an absolute joy to work with. He shows great respect to the artists he books, follows through on his word, is available whenever I’ve needed to follow up on something and the staff he has put together is among the very finest I have ever had the pleasure to collaborate with.

I flew down from New York for the opening of this magical space and I can say that it was 100% worth the trip. After meeting Johnathan and hearing Maria Howell with her band I knew I had to be a part of the Middle C family. They have a vision backed with a world’s worth of dedication and passion. I can’t imagine a more perfect environment for my band and my original music to be recorded. It’s a blessing.”


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