Jeff Bradshaw recently released Home: One Special Night At The Kimmel Center, his 3rd album and live recording of his homecoming to Philadelphia. BamaLoveSoul’s YahYah sat down with Jeff to discuss his new album, the return of Floetry and which artists have left him starstruck.
BamaLoveSoul.com: How has the response been to the album so far?
Jeff Bradshaw: It’s been crazy, people are very appreciative of good music and when you deliver that it’s incredibly gratifying to know that because as artists and musicians we’re fans first – we’re music lovers and when you deliver your art and people love it, respect it and appreciate it, its incredibly gratifying.
BLS: This is your first live album?
JB: This is my first live album yes.
BLS: How does it feel when you completely sell out a show?
JB: I mean you been in the industry for a while, how does it feel to be at this level of your career for this amount of time and still manage to pack out a venue.
It’s humbling because there are so many artists who don’t, so for people to want to come hear – a gift for my trombone player, its mind blowing but I feel incredibly blessed and feel great about where I am in my career.
BLS: Exactly how many instruments do you play and how did you learn to play them all because I know you play quite a few? Are they all self taught?
JB: I play about 20 instruments and they’re all self taught, I was born with a gift.
BLS: How do you self teach? How does that work?
JB: You have to ask god that. My father was a musician and he played guitar, trumpet, trombone, tuba and he sang so I inherited my musical ear and a lot of my musical gifts which multiply for what my father could do to the gifts that I’ve been blessed with.
BLS: When you say self taught does that mean you can write music as well? Did you teach yourself to write and read music or is just you play.
JB: Most of it is that I play but I’m continuing to take lessons now and over the last five years I’ve taken lessons to improve my reading but most of my career has been self taught and I’m not a reading musician.
BLS: When you are around and you collaborate with artists who read and write their music and have done that over the years, how does that work?
JB: You’ll be surprised there are a lot of self taught musicians around the world and when people find out of the situation, that you don’t read they send you mp3s of the music and concepts and give you time to work out.
BLS: How do you think the genre of Jazz translates to the younger generation?
JB: I think when you have artists that bridge the gap to the younger generation, from the top dog who I believe to be Marsalis to artists like Robert Glasper and Roy Hargrove and Michael Gordon, these artists who bridge the gap of this great American tradition and then add other concepts in the music to make it ear friendly to the younger listener and a lot of times you get the young people that’ll be interested in Jazz because you baited them with someone they’re familiar with and once you have them on the hook then you can take them back to where it all started with Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Charlie Parker and you can start from where it all started from traditional Jazz and how Jazz has evolved and artists like myself and Robert Glasper, Russell Gun & Roy Hargrove and these artists that bridge the gap between Jazz, RnB and Hip Hop.
BLS: Do you think your album is an album that kinda bridges the gap.
JB: I do, because I have Jazz, RnB, Gospel and Soul Artists on my album, I don’t consider myself a Jazz Musician I just consider myself a musician who learnt to play in Church and that appreciates, loves and studies a lot of variations of music starting with traditional Jazz, to funk, to RNB, to Soul music and gospel and blues because I’m a musician and instrumentalist they have to call you a Jazz Musician or a Contemporary Jazz Artist or a Soul Jazz Artist which I consider myself.
Most definitely because there are a lot of artists on this record who are not Jazz Artists and I think when you draw those artists into an artist which is considered a Soul Jazz artist it introduces their audience into what you do and that’s the blessing of having these particular creative artists on the record.
BLS: And do they stay once they’ve been introduced to you? Do you find that you have a new loyal fanbase? Do they stay with the music?
JB: Most definitely, they definitely believe they found something new and something for them to listen and hold near to them and cherish, so true music listeners, people that truly love music follow the artist forever.
BLS: Do you feel that the gap between Gospel and Secular music is closing?
We’ve had main stream introduction into the Church side of things, the gospel side of things. There have been a lot of reality TV shows and such that revolve around the church and gospel artists. Is the newer generation kinda seeing the secular and the gospel merging? Is it becoming more universal?
JB: I don’t think its merging, not necessarily with the reality TV shows I just think artists like Kirk Franklin, that those artists draw the younger audiences that love good music, that too draw them into RnB and Secular music with their arrangements, with their new youthful approaches to Gospel Music it draws those youths into that style of music.
BLS: On the album are there any tracks that listeners (your fans) have said are there favourites?
JB: I think the single All Time Love has been a very popular favourite, Love by Kim Burrell has been a favourite, I think I Do Sincerely featuring Marsha Ambrosius has been a favourite.
BLS: What’s it like working with her?
JB: She’s my sister, I was the musical director for Floetry for four years. When they first came to Philly, Marsha first performed with my band at an event called the Blue Funk.
We been family, Marsha and Natalie since they came to Philadelphia and we continue to be family – Floetry was on my first album, Marsha on was my last album and also on my current album.
BLS: Are they getting back together and do you think they should? I want Floetry back together.
JB: I think their first show is May 16th in Atlanta.
BLS: Is that new music?
JB: I think it’s a reunion tour so I think it’ll be a lot of music that made them love from the very beginning. I heard there are plans to record new music but they still do shows separately as well.
BLS: Have you ever come close to been star struck or star struck with all the names
you worked with. Has there been anyone and you been like wow?
JB: Working with Michael Jackson on Butterflies was a starstruck moment, working with Earth, Wind and Fire was amazing, working with Take 6 on this album was amazing, touring with Mary J Blige and Jay-Z was phenomenonally amazing, those artists I’ve admired and have been iconic to the music I listen to for many years, to be able work with them – how is it not possible to be starstruck by such brilliance and such humble and nice people.
BLS: Is there anyone you haven’t worked with yet that you’re dying to get your hooks into?
JB: I wanna work with Aretha Franklin, Ceelo Green, Adam Levine and Prince.
BLS: I am in love with Prince, I have been since I was 7.
What can fans/listeners expect from this live album? If they’re not up on Jeff Bradshaw, what they can expect?
JB: They can expect the very best of me, it’s a journey, a incredible live experience of 12 amazing artists joining me – it’s a beautiful live music journey that takes you to many places – there were cheers, there were screams, we shed tears. It was incredibly powerful because I was home after 20 years in the business and on my third record and after many tours and albums – I sold out a premier symphony hall right in the heart of the city that gave me my start. So people will feel the amazing energy and amazing power of live music and perfection at the highest level.
BLS: What else do you have coming up in the pipeline in 2015?
JB: Tons of shows, tons of Jazz Festivals, playing the Essence Festival this year for the first time as an Artist – that’s going to be amazing. Waiting on some Movie Soundtracks opportunities that have just come down the pipeline, I also finished working last year on the James Brown Movie Get On Up which I wrote a original song for and really looking forward to the Jeff Bradshaw and Friends Home Tour that’s going to be June to August of this year – two or three artists travelling from me for the album.
BLS: Can you say which artists?
JB: Yes, Eric (Roberson) and Robert (Glasper) are going to be doing shows me with me and also artists I’ve worked with in the past – Coco from SWV, Syleena Johnson, Najee.
BLS: What’s Coco like?
I do watch reality shows – Is she hard to work with like she is on the shows?
JB: Not at all, I’m surprised of that question – Coco is a sweetheart to work with, she’s incredibly fun to work with and to watch her work is amazing – she’s brilliant, a powerhouse and a consummate professional – fun to work with.
BLS: If there’s one thing that you want listeners to take away from the album – What would that be?
JB: That a Trombone can be a beautiful, masterful, lyrical instrument, that it is not a background instrument – that it is a beautiful lead lyrical instrument that can invoke all types of emotion and it is truly an extension of my voice – Get Ready.