Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Album Review:”Lady Of The Island”, Andrea Brachfeld

Lady of the Island is a marvelous, both approachable to the casual listener and intricate and in the presentation of musical ideas to grab the  studied musician by the ear. The tunes on this compilation swing hard and groove hard, and are executed at the highest level of musicality and musicianship.

Lady Of The Island

Brachfeld is a graduate of The High School of Music & Art and Manhattan School of Music. Her career started in the 1970s and she has recorded with Africando, Noel Pointer, and Timbalaye. Her breakthrough was in the Latin band Charanga ‘76, where she became the first female flute player to play salsa music in the United States. On every serious list of the 100 Greatest Jazz Flautists, she is listed near the top.

Since she began her professional career as a musician at age 16, she has recorded and played many different genres of music including funk, Country Western, Charanga, Salsa, Latin Jazz, devotional music and more recently, Jazz. Some of the many artists she has associated with include Wayne Wallace, Bobby Carcassés, Oscar Hernandez, Alfredo de la Fe, Ralph Irrizarry, Tito Puente, Ray Barretto, Joe Newman, Hubert Laws, Nestor Torres, Dave Valentín, Paquito D’Rivera, Kenwood Dennard, Hilton Ruiz, Steve Turre, Wycliffe Gordon and Wallace Roney among many others.

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 album. 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.

andrea brachfeld

The first tune is “Bebop Hanna”, and original and it underlines her musical center in that hard bop world. From there she ventures out to other realms of jazz and even interprets some pop music (Graham Nash’s “Lady Of The Island” is the title tune). Next is Herbie Hancock’s “Eye of The Hurricane” with a Bill O’Connell arrangement in 6/8 time. Wycliffe Gordon on trombone really shines on this tune and when Wallace Roney comes in on solo trumpet he plays a beautifully simple line that gradually morphs into a killing, complex one.

Duke Ellington’s “I Got it Bad” is next. This beautiful ballad shines with  the interplay of the melody and improvisation between Bill O’Connell’s piano and Andrea’s flute. Wonderful stuff. “Little Girl’s Song” is a Brachfeld original composed many years ago to celebrate her daughter. Andy Eulau plays the bass solo with total melodic and harmonic control. The song is a departure from the hard bop and just glows in it’s beauty, as I am sure her daughter still does.

“Four Corners”
Dead Ahead” is a Bill O’Connell composition  written when they 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.

“Birdlike” is the Freddie Hubbard tune with the Latin intro, it immediately appealed to Brachfeld, who is often identified as a Latin Player. The arrangement is again by O’Connell 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  alto sax solo on this tune.

“In the Center” is a Brachfeld/O’Connell tune with a very peaceful, if bop-ish feel. Then come’s the title tune. 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” closes out the album. It’s a Brachfeld composition. “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! “

Each element is seriously performed, tested, tried, and successfully achieved on every level by Andreaand 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.


  • Audio CD (October 9, 2012) Number of Discs: 1 Label: Zoho
  • ASIN: B0096PS8HC In-Print Editions: MP3 Music

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