S.A.C. Black History Songwriters Series: Bullen Family

Bullen family - BLACK HISTORY SERIES (IG) 2020
Photo: www.eddiebullen.com

Eddie Bullen’s birthplace of Grenada is better known for The Mighty Sparrow and calypso grooves than jazz music. Arriving in Canada in 1980, Bullen has since worked to add jazz to the canon of music people associate with this island in particular and the Caribbean in general.

A 1985 single he worked on garnered him a Juno Award when Liberty Silver won for her R&B single “Somewhere Inside Your Love.”

Since then, Bullen has led several musical lives; in the 1990’s he was half the production duo The Ed-Ian Cartel, with Ian Wiltshire. They released a string of 12” singles straddling Caribbean and Canadian dance styles like soca, house, electronic, R&B and reggae.

Beyond production duties, Bullen has also written and played on records from soca artists and the occasional reggae star like Ninjaman.

He’s backed Byron Lee, Melba Moore, Deborah Cox and many other performers on stage. When he isn’t working on other artists’ songs, Bullen creates television music in Canada and abroad.

Bullen’s first solo disc, “Nocturnal Affair” came out in 1996 and in 1999, he released “Caribbean Dream,” an atmospheric c.d. with Dan Gibson. The meditative soundscape environment on here is unlike Bullen’s other releases.

Taking inspiration from popular jazz instrumentals of the 1980’s, the Toronto musician enjoyed radio success with “416,” a track from his 2004 “Make It Real” c.d. He has since released two more discs, “Spice Island” and “Kaleidoscope.”

Bullen has played with Toronto 70’s funk band Crack of Dawn at their reunion shows including the Beaches Jazz Festival over the last couple of summers. He has also worked with Crack of Dawn singer Glen Ricketts, along with his son Quincy.

While running Thunderdome Sounds, his record label, and QDB Music, his publishing company, Bullen continues to seek out young talent, to work with, and to mentor; he started a high school co-op program, back in 1986.

With a laid back groove to the smooth, Bullen performs with several of his own groups; The Eddie Bullen Band, The Caribbean Jazz Collective, and Father and Son; Dueling Pianos.

The latter features his two sons Tre Michael on percussion and elder son Quincy facing his dad, each armed with a grand piano. These performances have featured a mix of classic jazz instrumentals, classical, and jazz takes of popular songs. So Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” fits right in with Rihanna’s “Unfaithful” hit.

“We can spar with each other” at these shows, according to Quincy, a popular keyboard player in his own right. He plays all over the musical map, from classical tones to EDM tracks. He also performs with the funk band Kush.

Quincy’s debut release was with a teen jazz band called the Quintessential Boys. He’s since released several solo c.d.’s, starting with “On Q” in 2010. The follow up, Quantumplations, veered into R&B and dance music. More recently, he’s released “Poise Debris.”

“Poise Debris” heads into harder rock with cuts like “Work With That” and classic funk, a la Prince, with tight jams like “Groove On Adelaide.” Quincy has explained the piano was ground into him as a kid, but he had his dad’s blessing to try other instruments later. Quincy plays a bunch of instruments, but the keyboards keep calling him home. He described his intense practicing schedule growing up in his father’s musical house; “one hour before (school), one hour after. That was my life for years.” This got him into the Royal Conservatory, which took over Quincy’s musical education. The senior Bullen jokes that’s why he has Quincy play some classical sounds at their concerts together.

Somewhere on the way to his Toronto Jazz Festival debut at 18, he found time to act on DeGrassi- The Next Generation t.v. show. Tre Michael has also acted. The family jokes that the younger son got off easy, with a less stringent musical education. The three occasionally perform together, but keep busy with their respective projects.

Written by: Erik Twight

Erik Twight is, at present, a Freelance Writer, maintaining a web presence specializing in current affairs, history, photography, and music. He produces a weekly podcast/radio show arranged thematically and with commentary.

Don’t forget to check out these Bullen Family songs as part of our new Spotify playlist episode  – https://spoti.fi/31Qr3U2

Spotify Ep.5

1. Sunset Marquee
Performed by: Eddie Bullen
Written by: Eddie Bullen
Produced by: Thunder Dome Sounds
Album: Kaleidoscope (2020)
Source: eddiebullen.com

2. Kaleidoscope
Performed by: Eddie Bullen
Written by: Eddie Bullen
Produced by: Thunder Dome Sounds
Album: Kaleidoscope (2020)
Source: eddiebullen.com

3. Morpheus
Performed by: Eddie Bullen
Written by: Eddie Bullen
Produced by: Thunder Dome Sounds
Album: Kaleidoscope (2020)
Source: eddiebullen.com

4. All Day Blues
Performed by: Quincy Bullen
Written by: Quincy Bullen
Produced by: Thunder Dome Sounds
Album: Poise Debris (2018)
Source: quincybullen.com

5. Groove on Adelaide
Performed by: Quincy Bullen
Written by: Quincy Bullen
Produced by: Thunder Dome Sounds
Album: Poise Debris (2018)
Source: quincybullen.com

6. Tomorrow
Performed by: Quincy Bullen
Written by: Quincy Bullen
Produced by: Thunder Dome Sounds
Album: Poise Debris (2018)
Source: quincybullen.com

Songwriters Association of Canada posts songwriter related news and events as a resource to members. Publishing these posts does not imply that the S.A.C. endorses the teacher, product, service, or company.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s