Brandon Sanders Trio

Just Friends Jazz Series

Making his recording debut at the age of 52 with Compton’s Finest (2023), Brandon Sanders is past the youthful need for flashy pomp and circumstance. He instead focuses on serving the material on this album—and supporting an ace roster of bandmates that includes vibraphonist Warren Wolf, tenor saxophonist Chris Lewis, pianist Keith Brown and bassist Eric Wheeler—with taste and maturity.

Though he’s only now recorded his first album as a leader, Sanders has been playing drums for the better part of three decades. Thus, this “arrival” finds him already brimming with both competence and confidence. His subtle but unmistakable touch on the kit is the result of, in Sanders’s own words, years of “practicing, practicing, trying to develop my craft.”

Based in New York (where he works as a social worker as well as a musician), Sanders grew up in Compton, California—the famously troubled Los Angeles suburb. The title of his album (and its eponymous second track) are in the spirit of celebrating rather than denigrating the drummer’s hometown. “I wanted to show that there is a positivity in Compton,” Sanders says, “that people have come out of there and done positive things.” He couldn’t have provided a better example than Compton’s Finest.

Sanders had the stars aligned for a life in jazz. Born in Kansas City, Kansas, to a violinist mother and a trombonist father, he moved to Los Angeles as a toddler but came back every summer to visit his grandmother, who operated a renowned jazz club in Kansas City. By his teen years, he was obsessed with the music.

However, it wasn’t initially his life’s plan. Sanders earned degrees in communication and social work from the University of Kansas (where he was also a walk-on practice player for the basketball team) and laid the groundwork for a long and successful career as a social worker. It wasn’t until he was 25 that he began learning to play the drums. Yet he threw himself into it, to the point that he went back to school at Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music.

Moving to New York in 2004, Sanders soon found himself a regular participant in the city’s busy jazz scene, creating a formidable reputation, while working with the likes of Joe Lovano, Jeremy Pelt and Esperanza Spalding. It was his old friend, Warren Wolf, who urged Sanders to record an album, encouragement that has now at last borne fruit as Compton’s Finest.

“As a kid I was introduced to everyone from James Brown, John Coltrane and Sarah Vaughan to Stevie Wonder and Duke Ellington,” says Sanders. “These artists were constantly played on my mother and father’s turntable. My new album is a reflection of all the joys I experienced growing up listening to that music.”

Event Sponsors

Artist Link

Brandon Sanders

2nd performance: SEP 17
Add to Google Calendar