Over the course of crafting a 20-album catalogue and architecting 32 Billboard No. 1 singles as a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer, Brian Culbertson has charted his own unique course in music.
His extravagant The XX Tour celebrates the upcoming release of his aptly titled XX album – those X’s are Roman numerals – that drops April 10.
Label him jazz and he makes a funk record. Call him an R&B artist and he drops an acoustic jazz trio collection. Brand him pop and he creates a 32-minute New Age opus.
And you would be hard-pressed to name another instrumentalist of his ilk who can mount an elaborately designed concert production that will keep him on the road for three consecutive months.
Culbertson burst onto the scene in 1994 with a chart-topping album that he recorded in his college apartment featuring keyboard-led contemporary jazz tracks. Long Night Out landed him a lengthy record deal and signaled that a star was born.
Flash forward to present day, his XX album finds Culbertson making a record unlike any of his previous releases because of its diversity.
“It’s a mix of things that I’ve done throughout my 20 records,” Culbertson says. “There’s a lot of funky instrumentals, some pop-sounding tracks, a couple slow jams, straight-ahead jazz, gospel, some vocals, lots of horns and some straight-up funk.
“The album is very much a mixture of some modern-sounding programming along with live instruments, too. Real drums on almost everything mixed with programming. Definitely a cool sound.”
Recreating that cool sound live for fans is the best part as Culbertson and his band embark on The XX Tour, playing more than 70 concert dates — an extremely rare feat for a contemporary jazz artist — that include his Berks Jazz Fest appearance.
Culbertson is creating the sound and look for The XX Tour as a sensory experience. The exuberant performer spends months in preproduction meticulously conceiving stunning visuals — staging, lighting, wardrobe and effects — in order to put on a mesmerizing show each time he takes the stage.
In addition to spotlighting the new album, the setlist include cuts from Culbertson’s hit-filled songbook. There will also be a segment showcasing songs from Winter Stories, an album released in 2019 that placed him in an acoustic jazz trio setting for the first time.
Possessing style, panache and a savvy business mind capable of moving the needle in music and beyond, Culbertson founded and curates the annual Napa Valley and Chicago Jazz Getaways, which have attracted guests from all over the globe to experience his premier events.
Whether you’re listening to music from XX on record or live in concert, you’re hearing an eclectic, entertaining and engaging set from an artist at the peak of his power.