Brian Hughes' wide-ranging appeal as a jazz composer and performer was best captured by a quote in Now Magazine, based in the guitarists' adopted hometownof Toronto. "Both a great artist and an accessible one. His passion is so obvious, intense and contagious that his audience shares it." Such a description seems an understatement in light of the recent success of his last release "Straight To You",which was selected by JAZZIZ magazine as one of the Top 10 Contemporary Jazz recordings of 1996 and earned Hughes the SOCAN Award (Society of Canadian Authors & Publishers) as the 1997 Jazz & Instrumental Composer of the year.
Hughes grew up listening to pop and rock music and learned his first licks from Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix records when he was seventeen. "By the time I was eighteen the jazz bug hit" he recalls, "and I had my guitar with me 12 hours a day." He was studying Economics at the University of Alberta when a summer music program took him to Grant McEwan Music College in Edmonton. Brian enjoyed it so much, he decided to enroll full time. He furthered his music education at the Banff School of Fine Arts studying with Canadian guitar legend Ed Bickert and later under the tutelage of Pat Martino, Joe DiOrio and Robben Ford at the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles.
Brian moved to Toronto in 1987, where he recorded and began shopping a demo for what would become his breakthrough debut recording, "Between Dusk and Dreaming". "I find that my own music tends to be a mixture of my jazz background, my interest in music from other cultures and the melodic pop music that I grew up with" he says. "I like the excitement of spontaneity coupled with melodies from the heart that make an emotional connection with the listener". Hughes' second release "Under One Sky" did just that and topped Contemporary Jazz charts in the USA and earned him the Jazz Report's "Jazz Group of the Year" award in 1993.
It was also in 1987 that Hughes began a parallel career performing with popular Celtic artist Loreena McKennitt. Brians' skills as a multi-instrumentalist and his production talents are evident on her past five multi-platinum recordings. He has performed with Loreena on several world tours and has recently expanded his Celtic connections by accompanying one of Irelands' most popular and internationally acclaimed bands, The Chieftains, on their 1997 Canadian and Italian tours.