Andrea Brachfeld’s “Lady of the Island” CD Review

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The journey of Andrea Brachfeld towards “Lady of the Island” has some notable details. Andrea developed her music career in New York. After completing her studies at the Manhattan School of Music, she worked with many renown stars in Latin music.

Andrea Brachfeld performed with artists such as Tito Puente, Ray Barretto, Hubert Laws, Nestor Torres, Dave Valentin, and Paquito D’Rivera among others. Along the way Andrea Brachfeld became the 1st female flutist to integrate a Charanga band in New York when she joined Charanga 76.

Andrea Brachfeld with Charanga 76
Andrea Brachfeld during her early career with Charanga 76.

Charanga is a particular style of Cuban music that emphasizes the use of violins (for melodic harmony) and a flute. Since the flute is a key instrument in Charangas, many Charanga bands were founded and/or led by the flute player. The Charanga rhythm has been popular in New York since the 1950’s. Back then Cuban flutist Jose Fajardo frequently visited New York to play with his “Estrellas” (stars) at the Palladium, and other famous venues.

Also around that time, Charlie Palmieri (Eddie’s older brother) put together the famous Charanga band called Orquesta La Duboney, which featured a then young flutist by the name of Johnny Pacheco. In the early 60’s, Pacheco left La Duboney to form his own Charanga band. It was with his Charanga that Pacheco started the FANIA record label with his partner Jerry Masucci. Fania went on to springboard the Salsa music frenzy in New York, and eventually throughout the world.

So being the 1st female to play the flute in a Charanga band in New York was no small feat for Andrea Brachfeld. The Charanga 76 was pretty well known in New York and Andrea played a key role in the band.

But that was then, and this is now. “Lady from the Island” is Andrea Brachfeld 6th CD recording as a bandleader. She has also recorded with Ralph Irizarry’s “Timbalaye”, with “Africando”, and with Noel Pointer.

Musicians for “Lady of the Island”

Andrea recorded “Lady of the Island” with her quartet, which is composed of:
• Bob Quarenta on piano and Fender Rhodes
• Andy Eulau on bass

• Kim Plainfield on drums

What I Like About “Lady from the Island”

• Very nice jazz melodies with a great mix of bebop and smooth jazz, with a bit of Latin.
• Good balance on showcasing Andrea Brachfeld’s quartet and guests. Andrea’s flute doesn’t overshadow the other instruments.
• My favorite songs are “Little Girl’s Song” (which is one of the smoother jazz ones, but with enough beat and variation to make it nicely interesting), “Lady of the Island” (which gives the album its titles – and its also a smoother jazz song), and “Four Corners”, which is closer to a Latin Jazz piece and gives guest artist Chembo Corniel some room to stretch his hands.
• Well recorded album. The recording sound quality by Chris Sulit at Knoop Studios and the mastering by Ed Littman are excellent.

Chembo Corniel on congas
Chembo Corniel plays the congas and percusion. He also released his own Latin Jazz CD in 2012.

Andrea recorded “Lady of the Island” with her quartet, which is composed of:
• Bob Quarenta on piano and Fender Rhodes
• Andy Eulau on bass
• Kim Plainfield on drums

Guest artists include:
• Todd Bashore on alto sax
• Chembo Corniel on congas and percussion
• Wycliffe Gordon on trombone
• Yasek Manzano on trumpet and flugelhorn
• Bill O’Connell on piano
• Wallace Roney on trumpet

“Lady of the Island” was produced by Andrea Brachfeld and Bill O’Connell.
It was released on October 2012 under the Zoho Record label.

Suggestions for Andrea Brachfeld on “Lady from the Island”

Andrea Brachfeld with Paquito D'Rivera
Andrea Brachfeld with Cuban maestro Paquito D’Rivera

• I had to think hard about something that I didn’t like. The one thing I came up with is that Andrea is a bopper and I take bebop in controlled doses. This means that at times I thought some songs sounded too much of the same thing. I know they are not, so that’s a signal to me that I’m getting “bop-saturated”.

• This is a well rounded album that is a pleasure to listen.
• Mostly bebop with some combinations of smooth and Latin jazz songs.
• Good cohesive quartet and invited guest artists.
• All in all a well produced, well performed, and very good Jazz album.

My Recommendation of “Lady from the Island”

• This is a well rounded album that is a pleasure to listen.
• Mostly bebop with some combinations of smooth and Latin jazz songs.
• Good cohesive quartet and invited guest artists.
• All in all a well produced, well performed, and very good Jazz album.

Video Review of “Lady from the Island”

Here’s a video where I review “Lady from the Island”. I hope you like it.

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