Monday, September 10, 2012

Andrea Brachfeld Lady Of The Island Zoho 2012

"Just do it!" - A bit of a bumper sticker and of course the famous calling card of the Nike brand but that same philosophy and approach to music can be the difference between a performer and a true artist.

Flute players are a dime a dozen but artists that play flute are rare. Herbie Mann, Hubert Laws, Dave Valentin are three of the best while other artists such as Eric Dolphy have taken the occasional stab at the instrument, there is not a line forming of formidable flute talent. The latest Zoho release from Andrea Brachfeld certainly places her at the very top of the list when it comes to memorable artistry. Brachfeld's latest release titled Lady Of The Island streets on October 9th 2012.

Bouncing back from personal injury and a fifteen year sabbatical Andrea Brachfeld is living the dream and playing her passion - jazz. Joined by some amazing guest artists which include Wycliffe Gordon, Wallace Roney and Bill O'Connell, Brachfeld draws a slightly more hard bop line in the sand then one would expect and delivers the goods. The real deal.

A well conceived release with a nice variety of tunes that range from Duke Ellington to Freddie Hubbard to four originals, Brachfeld catapults into the sleeper of the year category quickly. While I normally avoid releases with pop covers as quickly as I avoid an invitation to my sisters Thanksgiving dinner, Brachfeld's cover of the Graham Nash (CSN) classic Lady Of The Island shows off some nice vocal chops as well. The quartet Brachfeld plays with is certainly more than solid but a nice placement of the guest artists previously mentioned throughout the release makes this music with some muscle, a nice bite of finesse combined with a strong lyrical direction grabs and holds your attention.  

Opening with an original tune "Bebop Hanna" has Brachfeld showing a more whimsical side to an otherwise serious jazz musician. The tune was inspired by the three year old daughter of her niece who equated bebop with candy. I can dig that...Perhaps the youngster wasn't making a direction correlation between genre and a sugary treat but when played well the irony is not lost! Wycliffe Gordon cranks off an amazing solo along with pianist/arranger Bill O'Connell providing ample swing with a deft touch. Brachfeld's tune captures the imagery of the inspiration with perfection while her keen lyrical sense and harmonic progression set the table for more fun to come. Bill O'Connell did the arrangement for the Herbie Hancock tune "Eye Of The Hurricane" turning the tune into something reminiscent of what a small jazz orchestra might sound like. O'Connell's reharm of this tune is aggressive yet deceptively subtle when paired with the improvisational chops of Brachfeld. Wallace Roney kills it as they say with a solo that pushes the bebop envelope but not the listener off a sonic cliff. I have to admit a slight cringe when I saw the Graham Nash tune "Lady Of The Island" which was an incredible roll of the dice as some pop covers simply do not make the translation to the more common jazz sensibilities that are called for with this release. In reality the tune is reharmed with layers of texture and subtle nuance that bring the tune into the fold quite nicely. While the melody is slightly abstract in this version, that may be why it works so well. "Lady Of The Island" is turned into a sonic exploratory with a slight Latin undercurrent flowing just beneath the surface. As a conservative jazz critic Crosby Stills and Nash in any and all of their incarnations have never been my cup of tea but Brachfeld pulls off a nice riff on a pop classic that is captivating. While Brachfeld's vocals are spot on, I would question whether or not they are necessary as they only slightly muddy the waters in identifying the tune but no real harm done. Yasek Manzano handles the flugelhorn solo with ease and this incredibly talented young musician from Cuba would be a name to remember.

Andrea Brachfeld turns in an impressive performance along with her 4tet and special guests for a solid and incredibly entertaining release. Zoho puts out consistent high quality talent and Lady Of The Island fits in perfectly with their incredible catalog of gifted artists. There simply is not much here one wouldn't like for the simple reason of passion. A zest for life and a passionate approach to her art make Andrea Brachfeld an artist to keep an eye on.

Tracks: Bebop Hanna; Eye Of The Hurricane; I Got It Bad; Lit Le Girl's Song; Dead Ahead; Birdlike; In The Center; Lady Of The Island; Four Corners.

Personnel: Andrea Brachfeld: c flute 1,2,4-7,9, alto flute 3,8, vocals 8; Bob Quaranta: piano 4,9, fender rhodes 8; Andy Eulau: bass 1,2,4-9; Kim Plainfield: drums 1,2,4-9.

Guests: Todd Bashore: alto sax 2,6; Chembo Corniel: congas 2,6,9, congas & percussion 8; Wycliffe Gordon: trombone 1,2,6; Yasek Manzano: trumpet 2,6,9, flugelhorn 8; Bill O'Connell: piano 1,2,3,5,6,7,8; Wallace Roney: trumpet solo 2, trumpet 5.

Special thanks to Jim at Jazz Promo Services.

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Photo credit to Jack Frisch. Central Park 2012