|“Wish it dream it do it.” That’s what one of my many car bumper stickers say . Why am I talking about my bumper stickers? Well, because my dream has always been to play jazz, and this record is my dream come true! I just didn’t expect such amazing musicians to play on my record, but here they are, and here I am! Oftentimes life has many circuitous paths we follow in order to get to where we want to be. Our plan is not always God’s plan. I guess mine has been curvaceous as well.
My musical path began when I played my first jazz gig at age 16 at “All Nite Soul,” then found myself with the title of the first woman in the US to play in a Charanga band in 1976. After taking a semi-hiatus for about 15 years in 1998, I put together a Latin Jazz band and recorded and produced my first CD. Now I’ve come full circle to playing my first love, jazz. The hard work, persistence, determination, visualization techniques, the process of letting go, and then hoping that what I want, is my destiny, has paid off.
The Lady of the Island project began many years ago. Over the course of a couple of months, after a personal injury occurred, I was disabled from playing my flute. Fast forward seven years and many doctors, healers, and shifts of energy later, I healed myself. But that is a whole story unto itself. Then it became clear to me that I needed to play what I loved to play in life and no longer put it off; that was to play jazz! Many people have appeared in my life throughout this process who have inspired me, including Wycliffe Gordon, Frank Wess, Mike Longo, Hubert Laws, Dave Valentín, and of course my first jazz teacher ever, Jimmy Heath.
I would first like to thank God for allowing me to be the conduit through which my music reaches you, my audience. Thanks to my parents who brought me into the world. Special thanks to my daughter who is always there for me.
My heartfelt thanks goes out to all of you who have helped me produce this CD: Bill O’ Connell, Kim Plainfield, Chembo Corniel, Andy Eulau, Bob Quaranta, Yasek Manzano, Wallace Roney, Wycliffe Gordon, Todd Bashore, Maureen Plainfield, Olga Luz, Chris Sulit, Ed Littman, Jack Frisch, and Jochen Becker. Everyone supported this project and believed in me and did me solids over and over again.
So, my friends, my fans, my colleagues, my mentors, my elders, the masters; enjoy this music which so many people put so much hard work and love into! Be in joy! And don’t forget that double rainbows above your house can change your lives!
Be Bop Hanna- I composed this piece, because one day I walked into my niece’s house and her three year old daughter kept saying that she wanted more bebop! I asked her mom what she was talking about- it was candy! I just had to write a composition for her. Whenever I hear Wycliffe Gordon’s solo I can’t stop laughing! He puts so much humor into his amazing playing, and the smoothness of one line melting into the next is just amazing. Kim Plainfield’s sense of timing on this tune is perfect.
Eye of The Hurricane- In the process of acquiring as many CDs of the masters as I could, Herbie Hancock’s recording of “Eye” really spoke to me. When Bill O’Connell wrote the arrangement for it, I knew it was one of the right songs to record. He really nailed the concept of the composition with the complexity of the 6/8 rhythm and his intricate arrangement of the horns. Wycliffe gives the music his all, as he always does- playing with such passion. Wallace Roney plays a beautifully simple solo then gradually morphs into a killing, complex one. I just love his soulful and unique sound.
I Got it Bad- Bill and I were discussing which ballad to record when I came across this one. Duke is one of my favorite composers and I always felt an affinity for him since he and I were born in the same month. I also really related to the lyrics as I’m sure many women can. Bill’s suggestion of a duo for this piece really came out perfectly with the interplay of the melody and improvisation between us.
Little Girl’s Song- I composed this tune many years ago to celebrate my daughter. She has grown into an amazing person who is beautiful inside and out, but I still can’t stop treating her like my little girl. I’ve told her many times that she might as well give up the fight. She’ll never win! Andy Eulau plays his solo with total melodic and harmonic control. I can always count on him to keep the groove going!
Dead Ahead- This composition is written by Bill. We needed a tune that was really fast and this one did the trick. Bill didn’t have a title for it, so I just said, “Why not call it “Dead Ahead” as a play on words for straight ahead. He agreed, so here it is. Wallace nails the changes and of course brings his magic sense of chromatics to it. Bill also played with such fluidity and his ideas seem like they never stop, with different ones every bar.
|Andrea Brachfeld - photographed by Jack Frisch in Central Park, NY, in June 2012.
Birdlike- When I heard this composition with the introduction sounding so Latin-like, I knew I had to record it. Bill did an amazing job with the arrangement and with Chembo Corniel’s congas on the Latin part of the tune, the driving rhythm brings out all the passion of each player. Todd Bashore played a killing solo on this tune as well. I am heavy into Bird (Charlie Parker), so this is my tribute to him.
In the Center- I composed this composition when I was in a very meditative state. I was feeling very peaceful and centered and whenever I perform the tune, it immediately puts me in that state. Bill convinced me that the bridge needed some work, so he rewrote the bridge and it really felt like a perfect fit when I heard it.
Lady of the Island- I have always loved this tune. The simple melody and the lyrics have stayed with me for years. It is a love song and especially speaks to the musician’s way of life in such a beautiful way. When we first played this at the rehearsal, Kim Plainfield and Bill O’Connell immediately said- Jon Lucien. And that is how we recorded it- with Jon in mind. Kim and Bill played with him for many years and I knew him well. This one’s for you Jon! The fluegelhorn on the song is played by Yasek Manzano, a wonderful young musician from Cuba. He really added a soft and sensual flavor to the tune.
Four Corners I composed this tune after I had gotten my house cleared and evaluated by a Feng Shui master. The process literally changed my life in so many ways, so this song is a tribute to this amazingly ancient and totally practical Chinese custom. Kim, Chembo and I decided, as a result of Bill’s suggestion, to start my solo with just percussion and flute which gives the tune a different vibe to it. I’d like to also say that Bob Quaranta’s solo on this composition is the best I’ve heard yet! Yasek also plays beautifully crafted lines on the tune which shows why he is so well respected as a jazz player. Be on the lookout for this young lion in the near future!
Lady of the Island is a wonderful mix of musical selections to be enjoyed by everyone from the studied musician to the casual listener. The tunes on this compilation swing hard and groove hard, and are executed at the highest level of musicality and musicianship.
To date, this may be the clearest representation of Andrea Brachfeld’s expression through her music. Though she has varied tastes in musical approaches and stylistic interpretations, she is a hard bopper at heart, and this is obvious on this date. What a beautiful job of selecting music for this recording! It is very well thought out and there is something for everyone here. The music addresses, at the highest level, the three basic elements found in most Western music; rhythm, melody, and harmony.
Each element is seriously performed, tested, tried, and successfully achieved on every level by Andrea and the musicians she called to breathe life into this recording. From the simplest melodic statement to the most difficult of lines, the musicians take on the responsibility, and deliver, at the height of professional musicianship, with a true understanding of this art form we call jazz, and the history associated with it.
Recorded and mixed at Knoop Studios on August 20, 21, 2011 by Chris Sulit. Mastered by Ed Littman. Photography by Maureen Plainfield and Jack Frisch. Package design: Jack Frisch. Producers: Andrea Brachfeld and Bill O’Connell. Executive producers: Andrea Brachfeld and Joachim “Jochen” Becker.