IN A BLUE MOOD
by Ron Weinstock
Jack Brandfield – I’ll Never Be the Same
Born in New York City in 1998, tenor saxophonist Jack Brandfield debuts with a drummer-less trio album backed by guitarist Randy Napoleon and bassist Rodney Whitaker. The latter two were on the Michigan State University faculty, which Brandfield attended while earning a B.M degree. Before attending Michigan State, Brandfield was a student at the Laguardia School For the Arts, and then at Lincoln Center’s Youth Academy, he worked in ensembles directed by Ted Nash, Vincent Gardner, and Melissa Aldana. Presently he lives in Miami, where he is a graduate student at the Frost School of Music at The University of Miami.
About this album, he writes, “The title track, “I’ll Never Be The Same,” speaks to the inspiration behind the making of my debut album. For the past four years, I’ve had the great pleasure to be under the mentorship of two of my favorite musicians, Rodney Whitaker and Randy Napoleon. The knowledge and insight I received from them on what it means to swing, how to present a melody, and the importance of carrying the torch for this great American art form will stay with me for the rest of my life. The making of this album is a celebration of the friendship and bonds I built with them.”
This statement describes the music on this recording, which is like a graduate thesis on interpreting the American Songbook. Brandfield brings a full-bodied tone and plenty of warmth to the standards he interprets, with Napoleon and Whitaker providing supple support. Listening to his rendition of “Over the Rainbow” or the title track,” one is struck by his tender melodicism. He certainly can swing as he exhibits on “Lover Come Back to Me” and “On a Slow Boat to China.” There is the delight of his rendition of Thad Jones’ “Bossa Nova Ova,” the sublime pleasures of the “Ballad Melody,” and a superb performance of Ellington’s “Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me.”
Brandfield also stated about this recording, “The drumless trio is a sound that has always captivated me since hearing “Stan Getz Meets The Oscar Peterson Trio” at a young age. That album was a gateway for me to hear all the great tenor players of the 20th Century, such as Ben Webster, Johnny Griffin, and Zoot Sims, who are a few of my favorites. I have always tried to emulate their ability to sing through the horn with confidence and a sense of subtlety and beauty. On the record, I pay tribute to these inspirations by attempting to do what they did best, presenting my favorite melodies with my own voice.”
Like those great legends who inspired him, Jack Brandfield indeed sings through his horn, and this album introduces us to a marvelous new tenor sax voice that we look forward to hearing more from in the future.