My experience working with Grammy-winning producers like Adrian Quesada (Black Pumas/Prince), Michael League (Snarky Puppy/David Crosby), and Jacob Sciba (Gary Clark Jr./Gov't Mule) has led to my obsession with dialing in the perfect vibe for a song. Saxophones, keys, and flutes can be central to a recording or the magic sparkle on top.
Energetic saxophone solos, supportive piano/EP/synth parts, and lush woodwind arrangements are what I love, and my work in those domains has been heard by millions of listeners worldwide. I take inspiration from my favorite jazz saxophonists and pianists – Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Kenny Kirkland, Michael Brecker, etc – and their contributions to brilliant records by the likes of Joni Mitchell, Sting, Steely Dan, Chaka Khan, Paul Simon, and James Taylor.
I can create as much or as little of the arrangement as you need, and I'll work with you to get you what you need over two free revisions (included in my standard rate). If you have written sheet music, I can use it to track precisely the arrangement you've worked so hard on. If you have a demo and verbalized descriptions of your goal, I can make that happen too. I prioritize clear, cordial, and productive communication so I can come to understand what you need as thoroughly and intuitively as possible.
Working with fellow creators is a wonderful occupation that I don't take for granted. Please don't hesitate to reach out with questions. Let's make some music happen!
I record in a well-treated room with top quality gear including a great selection of German and Austrian mics, excellent preamps, industry-leading converters, state-of-the-art software, and extensive experience with all of it.
I'd love to hear about your project. Click the 'Contact' button above to get in touch.
67 Reviews - 10 Repeat ClientsEndorse Brian Donohoe
You need to hear Brian Donohoe's Treatment For My Remake Of "Summer Madness" by Kool and the Gang! Excellent!!
Brian Donohoe Was Amazing On My Remake Of "I'm In Love Once Again" by Marilyn Scott! Thank you AGAIN!
Brian Donohoe Brought His Magic For My Remake Of "Machine Gun" by Jimi Hendrix! Thank You!
Brian Donohoe Was EXCELLENT On My Remake Of "Lover's Eve" by Isley Brothers! Thank you again, Brian!
Brian is a MASTER on Sax! He brought exactly what we needed to the track
Brian Donohoe was excellent on My Remake of "Love Is Like A Newborn Child" by Randy Crawford! Bravo!
Brian Donohoe was EXCELLENT on My Remake of "Just To Keep You Satisfied" by Randy Crawford
I've worked with countless musicians over the years and have to say Brian is the most talented improviser I've come across. He really listens to the track, getting to the heart of the music. His chops are incredible. Thanks Brian. Always a privilege working with you.
Exactly what I wanted, first time, which is rare!
Brian Donohoe Did His FANTASTIC Treatment On My Remake of War's "Deliver The Word"! Thank you!!
Brian Donohoe was ABSOLUTELY EXCELLENT on My Remake Of "Outside Your Door" by Me'Shell Ndegeocello! Bravo!
Brian Donohoe was ABSOLUTELY EXCELLENT On My Remake of Our Original Song "Say"! Bravo!
I gave Brian a brief for my track and as usual he surpassed it! Stunningly creative playing and first class communication and service to go along with it. Thanks so much Brian!
Outstanding work again from Brian! The track required a very subtle improvised solo which Brian nailed. His playing is so expressive and tuned in to the track. Track was promptly delivered with several takes as additional options. Thanks so much Brian!
Brian Donohoe was EXCELLENT On My Remake of "Falling Slowly" by Glen Hansard!
Absolutely stunning improvisation by Brian on the latest track I sent him. His feel and phrasing are next level. He delivered the track promptly, including several additional takes to choose from. Outstanding playing and service. Thanks Brian!
I've worked with so many session musicians over the years but Brian stands out for many reasons. He is an absolutely monster player, with great sensitivity to the track and a wonderful soulful sound. His improvisations on my track were extraordinary. Brian was prompt, courteous and professional throughout - a joy to work with. Thanks again Brian. Can't wait to work with you again!
Brian is a determined and ferocious sax player. He delivered parts I needed in a marvelous way!
I Needed That Brian Donohoe Treatment For My Remake of "Truffle Butter" by Nicki Minaj, and i got it!! Another reason he has become my right hand. These reviews can only express my appreciation so much, so come and listen to the music!
Fantastic as always! Brian always provides a selection of takes, which gives lots of options- all of which are good. Fast, tasteful, professional and a very gifted player. A+
Interview with Brian Donohoe
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: I would love nothing more than to be a member of Sting's band ca. 1985 so I could learn from the likes of Kenny Kirkland, Branford Marsalis, Darryl Jones, Omar Hakim, and Mr. Sumner himself. The greatest "pop" band that ever walked the earth!
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: Listen, and mix, at low volume levels. This is how you can balance the big-picture concept with the zoomed-in details.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: My background is in jazz, funk, soul, rock, RnB, and fusion, and I work most often in those styles. I've been fortunate to work with a number of influential artists in those realms, as well as hip hop, gospel, reggae/dancehall, Brazilian, and Cuban traditions. There are plenty of electronic and pop artists and producers I enjoy, too!
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: I do have reasonably freaky ears. If you send me a complicated, note-dense composition with angular lines all over the place, chances are good that I'll be able to transcribe and recreate it on any of my instruments pretty quickly. But the bigger picture benefit here is my ability to listen to the concept of a song or composition and create and/or execute arrangement layers that help give it depth, sophistication, energy, and life.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: As a composer myself, I have tremendous respect for the role of the writer in every artistic field. My goal as a session musician and arranger is to find the right sounds and parts to serve the concept of the song itself.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: By the time a client sends me a project here on Soundbetter, they usually have the form and foundation of their track in place: the song form and drums/bass/guitar (or MIDI placeholders for those) provide context for me to add whatever arrangement layers need to go on top to bring it to life. This can include piano, electric piano, or organ accompaniment; saxophone/flute arrangements or improvised fills; or carefully layered synth pads and leads. Some clients write out a specific keyboard, saxophone, or woodwind parts via MIDI demo or old-school sheet music, which is always lovely! Regardless, clients who hire me should feel free to provide as much verbal detail as they want regarding what they need for their production. Reference recordings are always very helpful, too: if you've hired me, the chances are good that we have similar taste in music! I'd love to help your song approach the quality of our mutual heroes.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I record in a professionally-treated room with state-of-the-art equipment. I use and love microphones by Neumann, Austrian Audio, Beyerdynamic, and more; top-end preamps and converters by RME; powerful software by Spectrasonics, Arturia, Native Instruments, Spitfire, and nearly anything else you could think of. I use an intentionally hybrid workflow that involves the best of acoustic, analog, and digital audio designs. Most importantly, I've spent countless hours getting to know my environment and getting the best out of it.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: I'm heavily inspired by the great artists, writers, and musicians of the 1970s, '80s, and '90s: The classic bands assembled for live tours and studio sessions by the likes of Stevie Wonder, Sting, Peter Gabriel, and Chaka Khan; Weather Report, Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters, Return to Forever, the Mahavishnu Orchestra; anything Prince, Miles Davis, or Quincy Jones ever touched. I also have a deep love and gratitude for a broad range of the great composers and songwriters of numerous traditions and genres: Maurice Ravel, Wayne Shorter, Paul Simon, Sergei Prokofiev, Joni Mitchell, Claude Debussy, and on and on.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: I typically provide professionally recorded saxophone, keyboard (piano, electric piano, organ, synth), and woodwind (flute, clarinet) parts as specified by each client. Some clients need me to arrange parts, while others have specific written parts already in mind, and I enjoy working either way. Additionally, I'll often provide energetic improvised solos on any of the above instruments, but most frequently tenor saxophone, with multiple options and revisions available per project.