March is National Women’s History Month! We’ll be sharing stories about some of the most accomplished women in jazz, both nationally and locally. We hope you enjoy this tribute to the women of jazz.
Young Andrea Brachfeld took the bait. Although she was studying the piano, she impulsively signed up for flute when she learned it meant she could skip class. As it turns out, the joke was on her. The flute became her life. At 16 she put together her first jazz quartet, composed her own music and played at a local church. That life-changing experience led her to the beauty of improvisation, a style she has rarely strayed from.
Brachfeld turned down a scholarship to the Berklee College of Music and considers herself lucky to have instead received her musical education on the streets of New York. “Each New York City club would hire three bands a night and it was great to check it all out,” she recalls on her website. But fate came calling when she was contacted by a Venezuelan gentleman who she could barely understand over the phone. Though she didn’t talk Spanish, she took the leap of faith and the offer turned into a multi-year gig playing for the popular South American band, Charanga. She came back to the states several years later to raise her family but her musical education didn’t stop. She spent the next 17 years keeping a local group playing, and earned her master’s degree while getting certified in six different areas.
Brachfeld’s work has always been personal and her titles reflect that. In 2001 she released “Remembered Dreams,” followed in 2003 by “Back with Sweet Passion.” An interest in meditation inspired the release of a solo CD using synthesizers called “Songs from the Divine.” Her latest CD, “Lotus Blossom,” has reunited her with jazz artists Bill O’Connell, Rufus Reid and Winard Harper. Her education, and her journey , continue.
In 2006 Brachfeld was honored with the Chico O’Farrill Lifetime Achievement Award by Latin Jazz USA and, in 2010, the Pionero Award for her contribution to Latin music. She is taking this expertise around the world giving workshops and forums, playing in international jazz festivals, even conducting a master class in Croatia. She considers herself blessed to be able to teach and play globally and is enjoying a career as a messenger of music and a joyful citizen of the world.
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