The smooth jazz listing in Wikipedia includes only eight trumpeters/flugelhornists and half of them are artists whose surname starts with the letter "B." The names include Chris Botti, Rick Braun, Randy Brecker and Tom Browne, all of whom have their own style and have left their own mark.
It's time for another "B" to break up the boys club and her name is Cindy Bradley, following her 2007 self-produced album Just A Little Bit with a major label debut, Bloom. This CD showcases Bradley as an extremely promising young talent who isn't simply following in the footsteps of predecessors, but striking out on some new paths of her own.
Bradley's background as a sideman includes stints playing both straight ahead jazz and as a soloist with smooth jazz stalwart Pieces of a Dream. Michael Broening, the longtime producer of saxophonist Marion Meadows, handles the production here and provides Bradley plenty of opportunities to demonstrate her skill both as a player and songwriter.
The title track showcases Bradley's skill on flugelhorn as it washes over Broening's shimmering, yet subtle keyboards like a warm spring shower. Bradley alternates between flugelhorn and trumpet as the album neatly alternates between slower moodier songs and the up-tempo head-bobbers like "Swing Set" and "Uptown Drive" where Meadows drops in to engage Bradley in a sassy sax versus trumpet tete-a-tete. To her credit, Bradley, the fresh-faced rookie doesn't take a back seat as she matches Meadows, the savvy veteran, blow-for-blow.
In this musical genre, a pretty face is no substitute for knowing how to play. 2008 saw the emergence of exciting new jazz women such as bassist Esperanza Spalding to widespread approval. 2009 may find Cindy Bradley enjoying similar success.
Bloom is the sweet sound of something new and fresh on the scene.
Track Listing: Bloom; Swing Set; Curves Ahead; Sycamore Soul; Uptown Drive; Brooklyn Bounce; Take Me There; Catch the Wind; On Solid Ground; Before I Go.
Personnel: Cindy Bradley: trumpet, flugelhorn, horn arrangement; Tim Bowman: lead guitar (1); Mel Brown: bass (1-7); Freddie Fox: guitar, rhythm guitar; Michael Broening: keyboards, programming; Tony Morra: drums (3, 5, 10); Thano Sahnas: guitars (4, 8); Marion Meadows: tenor sax (5); Jaared: alto sax (6); Mario Mendivil: bass (8-10); Jay Soto: guitar (9); Michael White: drums (2).