It was a stormy, pre-pandemic night when Brandon Isaak recorded his latest album of roots-blues music in a celebrity-haunted space in Vancouver.
The penthouse suite of the Rosewood Hotel Georgia served as a studio for the single-night creation of “Modern Primitive,” which features the Surrey-based guitarist/singer with bass player Keith Picot.
The 11-song collection was released mid-summer, ahead of Isaak’s scheduled performance during the 2021 Odlum Brown Fort Langley Jazz and Arts Festival in early September, among other gigs on his calendar.
“Modern Primitive” took shape on the evening of Oct. 10, 2019, in a hotel room previously visited by the likes of Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley and other legends.
For Isaak and Picot, the goal was to record a traditional-sounding, two-man roots and blues album, with the help of engineer/producer Conrad Hillis.
Because time was a factor, they recorded the album in one take.
“There were spirits of the greats with us while we were recording,” Picot recalls.
The album liner notes continue the story.
“The guys swear you can hear the voice of Bing Crosby coming through during a guitar solo on one of the tracks, but you be the judge.
“In the end, what came to life was a simple and honest recording. This record is different than any other album written by Brandon Isaak as he introduces slide banjo and lap steel, thus conjuring up a sound with heavier, darker overtones, that are at times even haunting. It awakens a new spirit from a bygone era, here the past is now present again.”
At the festival in Fort Langley, Isaak and His Saints of Swing band are featured during an All-Star Blues Show Sept. 3 at Chief Sepass Theatre, with headliner Jim Byrnes Band and the Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne Trio.
The festival features both in-person and streamed tickets, with a Hip-Hop Jazz Fusion Show on Sept. 2 (featuring XL the Band, Kyprios and Red Haven), an All That Jazz showcase on Sept. 4 (Daniel Hersog Jazz Orchestra, Vince Mai Quintet, David Restivo Trio), a R&B Dance Party on Sept. 4 (with Big City Soul) and a Soul/Gospel Show on Sept. 5 (Dee Daniels, Dawn Pemberton).
This year’s festival also includes a free one-day outdoor festival on Saturday, Sept. 4. A “Mardi Gras strolling parade” starts at 9 a.m. at Fort Langley Village Farmers Market, followed by a day of free live jazz performances, Lions’ Club pancake breakfast and BBQ, strolling bands, and an outdoor art exhibit by the Fort Langley Artist Group at the former Birthplace of BC Art Gallery.
For more details visit fortlangleyjazzfest.com.
For a list of Isaak’s other gigs this month and next, visit brandonisaak.ca.