A life of music.
From a young age it was clear that Darin was destined for a life of music. One of his earliest recollections is sitting at the piano with his Dad (a self-taught pianist) and following his hands as they moved around playing honky-tonk and boogie-woogie. Those early home “lessons” eventually led to weekly classical lessons but Darin was usually more interested in picking up one of the many fake books in the piano bench and going through one by one, playing the melody and chords and unbeknownst to him, developing a deep affection for the Great American Songbook.
Practice makes perfect.
That love became solidified as his grandfather introduced him to songs like “All of Me,” “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” and “Five Foot Two.” Darin would always sing along after figuring out the melodies in the fake books. His grandfather, who lived the era in real time performing in barber shop quartets and befriending many of the great band leaders of the day such as Harry James, was an early supporter of Darin’s vocal endeavors. Other than a semester in college, Darin never had any formal vocal training. Always pushing to be better, Darin studied the greats. Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra and Bobby Darin to name a few. Their phrasing, their connection to the words and ability to tell the story finally sank in. He always knew that this was the music that stirred his soul and hoped someday he could add his mark. It would take a minute though.
The right place, the right time.
Through a serendipitous series of events, Darin found himself hanging out with a well known drummer named Chuck Burgi. Burgi, who is now Billy Joel’s drummer, had just gotten off the road with Enrique Iglesias. Chuck tells Darin that he thinks Enrique might be looking for another keyboard player and gives him the number for Enrique’s musical director, Tony Bruno. A few days later Darin met with Tony and was offered the gig. For a Manhattan School of Music graduate with a jazz piano degree this may seem like an odd fit but it suited Darin just fine. He never wanted to be solely a “jazz head” and welcomed this opportunity with open arms. It was a whirlwind time for Darin. Appearances on Jay Leno, David Letterman, all the morning shows as well as a few world tours. All the while, Darin had a front row seat to observe a genuine pop star and a backstage pass to see exactly what goes into a tour of that magnitude.
Enter Willy DeVille.
Soon after the tour with Enrique ended, an opportunity opened up for Darin to join Willy DeVille on a trio tour throughout Europe. The offer came innocuously enough. Darin was on a gig with bassist Dave Keyes and half way through the night, Dave casually asked Darin, “Wanna go to Europe for the summer?” While they had done many gigs together, Darin was unaware that Dave had been touring with Willy DeVille for 20 years. Truth be told, Darin wasn’t all that familiar with Willy DeVille. Well, things were about to change.
If looks could kill.
Of course, Darin still had to get the approval of Willy first. While Darin tried to “rock out” his look for the audition, there was no hiding his “GQ” clean cut vibe and it seemed as if the audition was over before it began. Willy, with a dismayed look on his face, said to Dave, “alright, let’s play a blues.” So the three of them played “Betty and Dupree” and when it was done Willy turned to Darin and asked, “Wanna go to Europe with me?” And so the next chapter of Darin’s life began.
Back to Europe.
Willy was a good fit for Europe. He never had huge success in the U.S. but in Europe he was a bonafide rockstar. This tour gave Darin the opportunity to play some of the more intimate but equally impressive theaters and venues that Europe has to offer. They played some pretty big festivals as well including the “Tabaco Blues Festival,” and the well known jazz festivals in San Javier and Marseille.
An unlikely pair.
Darin’s bond with Willy grew and for the tour the following year, Darin was asked to be his musical director. While the trio tour focused on Willy’s love of ’50’s music, this next tour would feature the full band playing Willy’s original songs picked from a discography of 14 albums. One of the few covers Willy kept in the set was ”Let It Be Me” by the Everly Brothers. Willy was famous for not always doing an encore but when he did, Willy and Darin would take the stage and close out the show. Willy’s rock ’n roll lifestyle was beginning to catch up with him and unfortunately these ended up being some of his last tours. Grateful to experience even just a few years with Willy, Darin looks back at these times with great memories.
There’s a time to play and a time to write.
As thrilling as world wide tours and playing TV shows can be, it often leaves little time to do much else. Darin’s next phase found him with some well needed time to wear some other hats, namely as a songwriter and producer. As a songwriter, he was starting to find his own voice and made the rounds showcasing his new original music which had influences ranging from John Mayer, Sting, Billy Joel and U2. He also had the opportunity to co-write and produce a tune for one of Greece’s most popular recording artists, Michalis Hatzigiannis. Of course, Darin found a little “play” time as well, performing with Michael Bolton on some TV shows in support of his standards album and being the co-musical director for Nueva Estrella, a singing talent show that aired on CBS.
You never know who’s listening.
As a performer, Darin has been hired to play at some of the most elite venues in NY and during one such event at the Plaza Hotel, in what now seems like a true moment of fate, was introduced to Doug McCormick. Doug was a highly successful business man but early in his career, he was a songwriter and had his compositions recorded by Gladys Knight, Dusty Springfield, Roberto Carlos and co-wrote with Paul Anka. This particular event was a surprise party for Doug, and as a welcome to the guests, Darin was asked to sing one of the songs Doug had written for Dusty Springfield, “Get Yourself to Love.” At first, Darin was worried he would be expected to deliver it like Springfield but once he got the ok that he could “make it his own” he found himself immediately drawn to the lyrics and got excited about the performance. Doug loved it and asked Darin to record a version of it. One thing led to another and a few months later Doug and Darin started writing together. There first song took a few months to complete but when they were done they knew they were on to something.
McCormick, Brown Music Inc.
The pace quickened as they fine tuned their process and a few things became apparent. Doug was more the “lyric” guy, Darin was more the “music” guy and neither was afraid to step into the other’s “territory.” It was also evident that their default writing style was the Great American Songbook and Darin’s voice fit the songs to a T. While keeping the lineage alive and staying true to the tradition was important to them, they also wanted to make it clear that these songs are of today. Through lyric content, production and ultimately performance, their songs have a modern flair and are becoming known as “modern standards.”
Introducing Darin Brown.
Sometimes life has a way of coming full circle and now Darin finds himself on the precipice of fulfilling a lifelong dream in a genre of music that he’s been connected to his whole life. With an album in the final stages of release (due out in September), a Holiday song and video in the works and the perfect writing partner, Darin is finally ready to make the jump he was always destined to take.