Industry Profile: Mounting an All-Star Charitable Project

Guitarist, composer, producer, author and radio host Brian Tarquin is a jack of all trades and a master of many, as well. The New York City born and bred auteur is a multi-Emmy Award winner who has composed and produced music for numerous television shows and films such as All My Children, The Simpsons, Frasier, Dr. Phil, Maury and many others.

He’s also helmed the Guitar Masters series of album compilations for his own BHP Music imprint. These albums featured original as well as licensed tracks by legends like Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Steve Vai, Carlos Santana, B.B. King and Joe Satriani. He also gained notoriety in 2008 for his Fretworx album that featured new recordings by heavy-hitter guitarists and bassists like Steve Morse, Billy Sheehan, Frank Gambale and Andy Timmons. That release was significant as one of Tarquin’s earliest charitable projects where a portion of the profits benefitted The Friends of Firefighters 9-11 Foundation. Tarquin has also composed and produced a number of tribute compilations that have saluted Bob Marley, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Clapton.

From original smooth jazz and hard rock recordings, to commercials, compilations and film music, Tarquin opened up his Jungle Room Studios in the early 2000s to serve a variety of music industry needs. But he came up in the business the hard way by interning at recording studios in NYC like Electric Lady and jingle houses like Look & Company. Unhappy with the music scene in New York he relocated in the early ‘90s to Los Angeles and broke into the studio world there. He did whatever he could to stay in the game; working in the office at Restless and Virgin Records, playing with various bands, and so on. Eventually he found his niche composing for various music libraries like Jim Long’s One Music, Sonoton and Killer Tracks.

Currently Tarquin and his family make their home in the Orlando, FL area. “I moved here three years ago,” says Tarquin. “I wanted to live in a different place. A lot of it came down to the schools because I have three kids. And the schools are really good here. Also, drummer Reggie Pryor is someone I’ve used for over 20 years and he lives in Orlando. Steve Morse lives around here too. I work with him on various projects. There is a lot of talent in Orlando.”

Tarquin is an artist who has an innate sense of community and a strong belief in helping others through his art. And he has done that with the aforementioned Fretworx project, Wounded Warriors veterans tribute and his two latest compilations Band of Brothers and Orlando in Heaven. Band of Brothers has an all-star cast of players featuring vocalists Phil Naro and Jeff Scott Soto, guitarists Steve Morse and Gary Hoey, bassist Tony Franklin and others. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Fisher House Foundation who supply housing for veterans’ families while they are hospitalized. Orlando in Heaven is a project dedicated to benefit victims and families directly affected by the Pulse nightclub tragedy that occurred in Orlando in June 2016. For that album Tarquin arranged an equally impressive array of world class talent such as the late great jazz guitarist Larry Coryell, guitarists Mike Stern, Chris Poland and Will Ray and jazz keyboardist Bobby Baldwin.

Band of Brothers came first and was gonna be an instrumental hard rock record,” says Tarquin. “But I hooked up with Phil Naro from Talas and it worked out so well that we added some vocal songs on it. Orlando in Heaven really hit home for me because I live near Orlando in Coco Beach. It rocked everyone to the core over here. I wanted to do something in remembrance of those who lost their lives in that awful tragedy. I was lucky enough to get Larry Coryell who lived near Orlando. He’s since passed away, but we did two songs, ‘Metropolis’ and ‘Pulse 49.’ It was a real pleasure because I’m a jazz fusion guy. I called in some of the best players for this one. I always compose all of these projects from the ground up, with real players. I still record everything to tape and then transfer it to digital. And it was nice to get some new guys on there too. There is this cello player, Tina Guo, who did this song called "To Fight A War I Don't Understand" on Band of Brothers which was great. She had a solo album called Cello Metal, where I’d discovered her, and asked her to guest on the Band of Brothers album.”
Tarquin expounds on his approach to crafting these compilations and casting the stars that play on them. “I like to have a cause for these records,” shares the auteur. “I don’t wanna just release a compilation and let it go to the wind. I try to tie them with some cool cause. I’ve always liked the veterans, so I did a couple like that. I’m very passionate about these this. Luckily the musicians I use are passionate as well. It’s a very rewarding thing. I’ve built these relationships over the years where I can call people up. When I am working on these records and composing I always try to get the appropriate guy for the right song. I’ll be thinking ‘maybe this one would be good for Mike Stern or Tony Franklin.’”

Tarquin gets comments through social media from people who really like these projects, especially the veterans. “With the veterans,” he says, “the biggest thing is them having to get back on target with their lives when they get  home. I don’t think there are enough people thanking veterans. Both albums are going to college radio right now. Cleopatra Records is the label I'm with and they have always been supportive of things I’ve done.”

Tarquin informs us that the albums have done well at radio: Band of Brothers (#21 Metal Contraband Charts-Commercial radio & college radio) and Orlando In Heaven (#16 on Relix Jam Band Charts).

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