David grew up in the Trinidadian neighborhood of Cocorite, four lanes of highway from the sea. Growing up, he played a wide range of classical and folk music before a chance BBC jazz broadcast at midnight through his grandmother’s GE radio forever changed his relationship with music. Encouraged by the artistry of Joe Farrell and Kent Jordan, he was determined to join the fraternity of musicians who have championed the flute as a credible jazz instrument.
His own voice has been deeply influenced by the world of jazz tenor saxophone, the instrument he’d always felt connected to which was simply not available in his band program at the time. Initially drawn to the iconic figures of John Coltrane and Joe Henderson, his ear also turned to the voices of players active in his lifetime: in the days of dial-up internet, a young David would patiently wait upwards of a hour just so he could hear the likes of Mark Turner, Chris Bacas and John Ellis for the first time.
Since moving to the US and graduating from the MA jazz program of Queens College, David has steadily and quietly become a distinctive voice in the New York jazz scene playing multiple flutes and woodwinds with a constantly expanding community of artists, having performed at venues and festivals the US, Caribbean and Latin America.
David has also crafted a singular voice as a composer/bandleader. His group, the David Bertrand Quartet, is driven by an interest to find organic, personal intersections between modern jazz and the folkloric rhythms and song forms of his homeland. Together since 2013, they have performed at Twins Jazz (Washington D.C.) and several notable venues in NYC including The DiMenna Center, The Village of Mamaroneck concert series, Shapeshifter Lab, The Cornelia Street Cafe, Club Bonafide, Caffè Vivaldi, Nublu, Spectrum, the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music Concert Hall and the Whynot Jazz Room.
David was invited by Downbeat Magazine to write the editorial for the September 2020 edition that focused on the impact of systemic racism within the jazz world. He is a 2021 recipient of a City Artist Corp grant through the New York Foundation of the Arts.
In 2022, he was part of the musical cast of Rahsaad Newsome’s Assembly (New York Times Critics Pick) and had an original composition, Bourg Mulatresse’, commissioned by Gregory Williams & Diana Golden premiere at the National Music Festival. He was also invited to accompany the speakers and presentations at the 2022 Mine Action symposium of the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS).
2021 City Artist Corp grant through the New York Foundation of the Arts
Flutist David Bertrand teams up with Rafal Sarnecki/eg, Rus Wimbish/b and Carter Bales/dr for a lovely collection of lively compositions. Guest soprano saxist Chris Bacas joins in for lovely unison lines on a dreamy “South 1st,” but the rest of the time Bertrand links with Sarnecki’s guitar for rich intertwining melodies, as on the flowing “Lexington 63rd” and a nimble take of “Solar.” The team cooks up a Caribbean dish on “Palmyra” and gets a bit of Afro Funk for the grooving “Wood Slave.” Bluesy woodwinds created a rich texture for the backbeat of “Claude’s Nariva” with Bales giving a sensuous samba for “Fire Island.” Satisfying and richly relaxing.
New York City
Willing to teach
Intermediate to advanced
M.A in Jazz Performance - Queens College
Available Monday - Thursday afternoons/ evenings
$90 per hour
A comprehensive discourse on the history of jazz flute along with insights/ considerations on developing an improvisational voice on a member of the flute family (of particular interest to those whose primary instrument is saxophone).