Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Prunka, Brian

Prunka, Brian, guitar, oud; b. Danbury, CT, 9 August 1975. He mainly grew up in Miami (1981-93), FL and lived in New Orleans from 1993-2003.

He studied jazz at Loyola University (undergraduate 1993-97) and the University of New Orleans (graduate 2000-01), where he studied with Steve Masakowski (Astral Project) and Ed Petersen. Brian began playing guitar at the age of 13. Since 1998, Brian has also been playing the oud, a fretless Arabic lute, which is the ancestor of the guitar. He has studied with oudist/violinist Simon Shaheen (records on Axiom, CMP, and Ark21) and attended Shaheen's annual Arab Arts retreat (2001-2003), where he studied Arabic repertoire and music theory with Simon Shaheen, William Shaheen, Ali Jihad Racy, and Rima Khcheich.

From 1999-2003 he led the group Mahfouz, which performed a pioneering fusion of jazz and Arabic music. It featured many outstanding musicians of the New Orleans area, including saxophonist Tim Green (who has recorded with Peter Gabriel, among others). Brian also led Malectrafouz, an 'electric' version of Mahfouz incorporating elements of funk, rock, and electronica, and featuring Brian on quarter-tone electric guitar. Since 2003, Brian has led the Near East River ensemble, which is a continuation of his work bringing jazz and Arabic music together. In addition to the Near East River ensemble, Brian leads his quartet, performing eclectic avant-jazz, and a variety of other groups performing original modern jazz.

Prunka lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Recordings:
In Praise of Shadows (2001); Mahfouz (2003)
As sidperson:
Olivier Bou: Boo-Shah-O-Ray (2002); Michael Jenner:Michael Jenner Group (2002); Yonas Ghirmay: Instrumental Songs from Eritrea (2003)
Unissued recordings:
Chamber Mahfouz (2003); Malectrafouz (2003); About 18 hours of live recordings of Mahfouz from 2000-03. Various other live recordings of other groups, about 10 hours, 1995-2003.
Mahfouz studio recordings, about 1 hour, 2002.  Various jazz recordings in studio, 2000-02.

Bibliography:
Main Website: www.brianprunka.com
Website about Arabic music & the Oud:  www.brianprunka.com/oud
Article/Interview: Natural Awakenings, N.O. edition, Dec. 2002

Contact information:
general: mail@brianprunka.com
booking: booking@brianprunka.com

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