New jazz talent “encapsulated” online goes live in Harlem

Jazz vocalist Brandon Bain says that in jazz there are unique moments in time that never repeat themselves.

“They take place on the spot, and you just gotta be there to witness it,” he says. “If you don’t write about it, photograph or video it, it is as if it almost never happened. For our generation, it’s so important to document music as much as we can.”

With the help of a serendipitous win of $2,600 in the New York Lottery, Bain founded “Capsulocity” to do just that. Pronounced kap-suh-los-i-tee, it is the first variety web series for jazz musicians and other creative types on the New York City scene. Its name invokes the image of a capsule, which contains short glimpses of the up-and-coming new jazz talent in the city, and whose individual artistry is captured in entertaining and educational videos about their current projects.

Capsulocity: Unique moments of Jazz captured in a time capsule

Bain is the embodiment of cool and charisma. He shoots and edits these videos using his new camera and his academic background. Having been trained as a journalist at Brooklyn College, he only discovered singing in his late 20s. Bain eventually decided to get more into creative work, so he went into music using the tools he had learned. “As a vocalist, I spent a lot of time on the jazz scene, and stayed in the clubs until 5a.m. where anything can happen,” he said with a mischievous smile. “My eyes were always open for talent.”

Christian Sands and Kris Bowers performing a duet in the “That’s Killin” category on Capsulocity

Grammy-nominated pianist Christian Sands, who was featured in the first episode of Capsulocity five years ago, and who is also a long-time friend of Bain’s, said that as YouTube started to blow up, Bain came to him, explaining his novel idea to introduce these gifted musicians he had discovered to a young and international audience through social media.

“Kids are always on the internet and Capsulocity is presented in a very youthful way,” Sands said.

And the idea took off.

Viewers from all around the globe, including the US, Germany, Japan, Russia, and the Carribean have watched Capsulocity, according to Google analytics. It has featured winners of the prestigious Thelonious Monk competition and the Sarah Vaughan Vocal Awards, and represents a roster of rising artists, such as Jazzmeia Horn, Jonathan Batiste, Brianna Thomas, Kyle Poole, Christian Sands, Cecile McLorin Salvant, ELEW, and Camile Thurman.

The inimitable Jazzmeia Horn, showing off her characteristic style in Season 2, Episode 2 on Capsulocity

For Bain, Capsulocity is not about money making, but about an artistic project that he thought was necessary. “I’m not a manager at all, but I’m doing some type of video curation that doesn’t really exist in this scene,” he said. “If I were a club owner or a festival booker and I discovered one of these videos, I would already have a good enough sense to book this artist at my event.”

Bain’s dream is to take Capsulocity live.

“In the process of searching for your own artistic style, you might find yourself either throwing out a lot of what you learned, or finding ways to just make it match your particular talent,” he said, “and when this happens in a live situation, this is where real magic happens, I think.”

On August 22nd, Bain’s dream will come true, when the Capsulocity family mix and match at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, a moment in time he expects no one will forget. Christian Sands, who is convinced that jazz is the “reflection of the people,” and thus must automatically fascinate everyone, will be the musical director at the event.

Jon Batiste and Christian McBride act as artistic directors of the museum.

Despite the lucky infusion of cash to start Capsulocity, Bain’s project has not yet attracted the amount of publicity that it deserves.

“It’s been hard, man,” he said. “But we are our own press.”