Brian VanArsdale is an up-and-coming tenor saxophonist and composer currently based in New York City. After growing up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, a city long known as the home to many great jazz and blues musicians, Brian moved to Atlanta, Georgia where he was able to start his own musical groups, starting as young as age 14. Brian first went to college at the University of Illinois where he gained a mentor in Ron Bridgewater, the celebrated tenor player.
In 2000, Brian transferred to the University of North Florida where he studied mainly with Bunky Green and Kevin Bales. During his tenure at UNF, ensembles that Brian participated in were recognized with many national and international awards, including invitations to the 2002 and 2003 IAJE conventions, the East Coast Jazz Festival in Rockville, Maryland, and The Midwest Convention in Chicago, IL. During the two years Brian was at UNF, he was the recipient of a total of five DOWNBEAT student music awards for both his own writing and for the ensembles he performed with. Brian's writing can be heard on the UNF Jazz Ensembles CD Things to Come, and again with his playing on their release Second Thoughts. Brian graduated from UNF in 2002, and was the recipient of the "Outstanding Musician Award" from the music faculty. In addition to school groups, Brian performed around the southeast with his quartet and as a sideman in many other groups.
In June 2002, Brian was a participant in the Steans Institute for Young Artists at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago, IL. There, he worked with faculty Dr. David Baker, Dr. Nathan Davis, James Moody, Rufus Reid, and Danilo Perez, and performed with some of the best young jazz artists from around the world.
Beginning in the fall of 2002, Brian was a teaching assistant and co-director of the Jazz Lab Band and 3:30 jazz performance workshop at the Eastman School of Music, where he studied with a wonderful faculty including Jeff Cambell, Harold Danko, Bill Dobbins, Clay Jenkins, and Walt Weiskopf. Addidiotnaly, Brian led his small group to a performance at the East Coast Jazz Festival and the award of "Best Combo" from Downbeat Magazine. Brian graduated in the spring of 2004 with a Masters degree in Jazz Performance, again receiving the top award for jazz performance from the faculty, the Shirmer Prize.
In 2003, Brian was the recipient of an ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award for his composition "The Beginning and the End". Brian was one of only 15 composers under the age of 30 to receive this award nationwide.
Brian has performed with a wide range of jazz and commercial music artists such as Shelton Berg, Dave Brubeck, Harold Danko, Benny Green, Slide Hampton, The Heath Brothers, Bill Holman, Steve Houghton, Jeff Kashiwa, Pat Martino, Bob Mintzer, James Moody, Eddie Palmieri, Louis Smith, Marvin Stamm, Clark Terry, Ben Tucker, Doug Wamble, and many others.
In early 2005, Brian celebrated the release of The Flood a CD he recorded with his new large ensemble, "The Brian VanArsdale Orchestra". This recording features a five-movement work Brian composed that loosely tells the flood story (most commonly known as the story of Noah's Ark from the bible). The CD features great musicians from all over the country that Brian assembled for the recording and a concert in the fall of 2003. Additionally, plans are in the works for a possible tour of the band and work during 2006.
This CD, Cryptography, celebrates Brian's first album as a small group leader, and shows off his trio with Dan Loomis (bass) and Jeremy Noller (drums). The CD features five VanArsdale originals as well as a tune from his former teacher Bunky Green, and three other jazz standards.