Brian Newman Quintet playing hometown show at Music Box Supper Club in Cleveland – News-Herald

It was the last thing Brian Newman expected to hear.

Languishing in as the last chair in the second jazz band at Mentor High School, he asked the instructor what he had to do to move up to the top band.

“And he straight up just said to me, ‘Nothing. You’ll never be a jazz musician,’” Newman recalls. “And that was crazy to me.”

After all, this was a young man who was improvising on the trumpet in the concert band at Memorial Middle School in Mentor.

This was a young man who had taken a six-week summer jazz course and who played regularly at a Concord Township coffee shop.

This was a young man who, in his early teens, had told his mother he wanted to grow up to be a New York City musician.

Jazz trumpeter and vocalist Brian Newman great up in Mentor and Concord Township. (Josh Cheuse)
Jazz trumpeter and vocalist Brian Newman great up in Mentor and Concord Township. (Josh Cheuse)

And this was a young man who, many years later in the Big Apple, would build a professional relationship with pop star Lady Gaga and share the stage with her myriad times as her trumpeter and band leader.

“Some kids might have closed down and quit, (and) I went home and cried, of course,” allows the Lake County native during a phone interview from Brooklyn, New York.

But quit, he did not. With the blessing of his always supportive parents, Anthony and Kimberly, he transferred to  Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin School in Munson Township and continued to work toward a career in music — a career that on Jan. 13 will bring the trumpeter and vocalist to the Music Box Supper Club in Cleveland for a hometown show with his quintet.

While growing up in Mentor and Concord, he says, his dad would drive him to gigs — at the Grog Shop in Cleveland Heights or a certain club in the flats where he had his first taste of Irish whiskey or to a theater in Youngstown — to play with adults.

“I always played with older musicians that were like, you know, 15-16 years older than me, and I learned a lot from them,” he says. “It was a formative experience.”

He’d received a more formal musical education at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and would meet other young musicians he would perform shows with in the years following and to this day, such as Steve Kortyka and Alex Smith.

“I’m very loyal to the guys who are loyal to me — and are playing their butts off,” he says. “I think now we have the best iteration of the band that we’ve ever had.”

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