There is something magical about the sound of the flute no matter how well it is played; and when it is played as masterfully as Andrea Brachfeld plays it on her album Lady of the Island it is not only magical but mystical as well. This other-worldly beauty that Ms. Brachfeld brings to the flute comes from a refusal to accept that there are boundaries that cannot be crossed. So bold is her playing that it is possible to hear the notes sizzle and pop into a fourth dimension. For not only do the notes come alive in the world as we know it, but there is a spectral nature to them as well, which might account for the manner in which they echo seemingly from a dimension that exists only in the hidden recesses of the soul. Ms. Brachfeld also has a special way of stringing up the notes into lines that glitter and sparkle like ethereal strings of sound. She often stretches them to the limit of song and dance, carving great arcs of sound through the air; leaping like a mythical gazelle from one elevated plane to another bounding breathlessly from verse to verse.
Andrea Brachfeld also has a fearless approach towards repertoire and throws caution to the wind on the standards that she plays on this album, while bringing to the set several originals that imitate the rhythmic idiosyncrasies of the idiom of jazz with great depth of thought and unbridled ingenuity. On her own compositions Ms. Brachfeld is capable of writing with the swing of delight. “Bebop Hanna” is a delightful song where the flutist leaps for joy and is agape at the immensity of the world as she gazes upon it with a child’s eye. She does something similar on “Little Girl’s Song” a song about her daughter. Andrea Brachfeld shows she has a delightful ability to immerse herself in the subject of her muse. This is why she comes up with beautiful meaning in her narratives and character sketches making them entirely real and fleshing them out with humour and real quirks. These songs differ dramatically from Ms. Brachfeld’s other compositions. On the first, “In the Center,” a composition that she shares with pianist Bill O’Connell, Ms. Brachfeld as well as on “Four Corners” a chart she has written on her own, there is a dramatic focus on shape and space. The architecture of both songs pays homage to sound and silence, shape and emptiness in a beautiful manner. Both are exquisite songs and indicate that the composer has a boldness to go beyond the pale.
On the standards Andrea Brachfeld is magnificent in her approach to musical creativity as well as in her virtuoso approach to her chosen instrument. For instance, picking the alto flute to express the emotions felt by Duke Ellington in his aching elementally sad ballad is sheer genius. Turning Herbie Hancock`s tumultuous “Eye of the Hurricane” into a steamy Latin shuffling beat to open and close the song is also a master-stroke of musical ingenuity and belies an rare inspiration and begs the suggestion that Ms. Brachfeld is made entirely of music. Graham Nash’s beautiful melody is dreamily treated and indeed has that ethereal quality that Ms. Brachfeld imagined that Jon Lucien would bring to it were he part of this magical recording. Freddie Hubbard`s rarely-played chart, “Birdlike” pays tribute to the patron saint of bebop, Charlie Parker in inimitable fashion. Bill O’Connell also contributed a wonderful hard-bopping chart, “Dead Ahead” to the session.
And then there is that small matter of the musicians on this record. O’Connell always becomes a resident genius wherever he appears; here bring the mastery of his instrumentation and expression to this date, also stamping his ebullient personality all over the music. Trombonist Wycliffe Gordon shows why he is one of the finest players of that difficult instrument, playing with great humour as well as with the zeal of a soulful instrumentalist, something that very few musicians do today. Wallace Rooney’s solo on “Eye of the Hurricane” is truly memorable for his mighty blowing. Chembo Corniel enlivens all of the Latin interventions and Yasek Manzano is a revelation. Of course the session belongs to Andrea Brachfeld, who is as sensational and breathtaking as a master flutist can be, making a record as memorable as one can ever be.
Track list: Bebop Hanna; Eye of the Hurricane; I Got It Bad; Little 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); Andy Eulau: bass: (1, 2, 4 – 9); Kim Plainfield: drums (1, 2, 4 – 9); Todd Bashore: alto saxophone (2, 6); Chembo Corniel: congas (2, 6, 9); congas and percussion (8); Wycliffe Gordon: trombone (1, 2, 6); Yasek Manzano: trumpet (2, 6, 9), flugelhorn (8); Bill O’Connell: piano (1 – 3, 5 – 8); Wallace Rooney: trumpet solo (2); trumpet (5).
Released – 2012
Label – Zoho Music
Runtime – 1:00:34