John Michael Bradford, Berklee City Music Alumnus Featured on CNN

After a time of great tragedy,  John Michael Bradford was fortunate to discover his musical talent as a trombone player. Hurricane Katrina was threatening his community in Louisiana and he was forced to evacuate his home with his family. They quickly left everything behind and moved to San Antonio, Texas to stay at a family friend’s house.

On his trip, John Michael met Sam Williams, a trombone player that had been a part of the brass band called the Dirty Dozen, and he is now the leader of the band called Big Sam’s Funky Nation. “We were listening to some music in the car, singing along and I pretended to play the trombone,” recalls John Michael. Music was always part of John Michael’s life, as his mom and sister are singers, and his grandfather played the trumpet in high school. At a very challenging time when his family had to uproot their lives, music became a wonderful way to bring everyone together and Sam changed his life forever.

John Michael Bradford: Music and Performance Student 
John Michael Bradford: Berklee Student

Today, John Michael is a celebrated artist in the brass community and he is recognized for his talents. He has performed in New Orleans, Japan, Cuba, Switzerland, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, as well as played at the GRAMMYS, and Carnegie Hall. A former Berklee City Music alumnus, John Michael is soon to complete Berklee College of Music with a Bachelor degree of Music in Performance. His first album came out last year called, “Something Old, Something New,” and he was awarded a full-tuition scholarship.

 

“Sam was the first time I had been around a trombone, and his sound is so big and warm. It really made me feel good to hear music and that New Orleans funky style.”
John Michael Bradford

John Michael Bradford: Berklee College of Music

Recently, John Michael was featured on CNN in a personal interview, as he recounts his experiences and ability to rise above the tragic events of Katrina “My favorite thing is about playing and making people feel good. It’s incredible because I always think back to Katrina,” recalls John. After the storm passed, John Michael went back to his hometown to nurture his talents and signed up for lessons using his grandfather’s instrument. He wanted to play the trombone and he became one of the youngest members to join the Tipitina’s Foundation. Donald Harrison, a Berklee alum and the Program Director, recognized John’s gift of musical performance. The after-school program is a Berklee City Music Network member and focuses on jazz performance for young artists. Many students that have completed the program have been selected to receive summer scholarships to Berklee City Music’s Five-Week intensive training.

John Michael recalls, “As far back as I can remember, I looked up to Donald and I wanted to follow in his footsteps at Berklee College of Music. Donald taught me everything about jazz and I gained his respect.” At 21-years-old, John Michael has been fortunate to meet and perform with many popular musicians early on in his career. He had the opportunity to work with The Meters guitarist, Leo Nocentelli, a Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, as well as with trumpeters Christian Scott, and study under the guidance of Sean JonesBerklee’s chair of the Brass Department.

Over the years, John Michael has been influenced by other musicians including Louis Armstrong, Clifford Brown, Herbie HancockJustin Timberlake and Bruno Mars. “Bruno is great and he has an amazing ability to do all styles of music that appeals to different audiences. I would love an opportunity to work with him in the future, as well as JT.”  

Music is the universal language that brings people together from around the world. John Michael aspires to become one of the many great jazz performers idolized by others after he graduates Berklee. At a young age, he has meet with many influential people during a difficult circumstance and turn it into a rewarding opportunity. “For me, it was a tragedy turned into a blessing,” John Michael says. “I think music can turn a tragedy into something that’s beautiful because it can touch so many people.”

Learn more about the Berklee City Music Network, and the online educational portal for music teachers called the PULSE.

More Jazz Quotes

“It’s like a whole orchestra, the piano for me.”—Dave Brubeck

“Music is a verb.”—Ornette Coleman

“I can not play a lie. I have to believe in what I play or it won’t come out.”—Stan Getz

“I start in the middle of a sentence and move both directions at once.”—John Coltrane

“Jazz is not background music. You must concentrate upon it in order to get the most of it. You must absorb most of it. The harmonies within the music can relax, soothe, relax, and uplift the mind when you concentrate upon and absorb it. Jazz music stimulates the minds and uplifts the souls of those who play it was well as of those who listen to immerse themselves in it. As the mind is stimulated and the soul uplifted, this is eventually reflected in the body”—Horace Silver

“Don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there.”—Miles Davis

“Jazz is not a what, it is a how.”—Bill Evans

Duke Ellington

“If it sounds good and feels good, then it IS good!”—Duke Ellington

“You’ve got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail.”—Charlie Parker

“Jazz is America’s classical music.”—Billy Taylor

“Jazz is there and gone. It happens. You have to be present for it. That simple.”—Keith Jarrett

“The trouble with most musicians today is that they are copycats. Of course you have to start out playing like someone else. You have a model, or a teacher, and you learn all that he can show you. But then you start playing for yourself. Show them that you’re an individual. And I can count those who are doing that today on the fingers of one hand.”—Lester Young

Sarah Vaughan

“There are notes between notes, you know.”—Sarah Vaughan

 

Jazz Quotes

Here are some quotes from Jazz Masters. Be inspired by their wisdom and music!

“What is music to you? What would you be without music? Music is everything. Nature is music (cicadas in the tropical night). The sea is music, the wind is music. The rain drumming on the roof and the storm raging in the sky are music. Music is the oldest entity. The scope of music is immense and infinite. It is the ‘esperanto’ of the world.”—Duke Ellington

“Jazz to me is a living music. It’s a music that since its beginning has expressed the feelings, the dreams, hopes, of the people.”—Dexter Gordon 

Miles Davis

“I’ll play it and tell you what it is later”—Miles Davis

 “Musically, I love to talk just off the top of my head and that’s what jazz is all about.”—Stan Getz

 “At heart I’ve always been a jazz man.”— James Brown

“If I don’t practice for a day, I know it. If I don’t practice for two days, the critics know it. And if I don’t practice for three days, the public knows it.”—Louis Armstrong

 “I know I’m no glamour girl, and it’s not easy for me to get up in front of a crowd of people. It used to bother me a lot, but now I’ve got it figured out that God gave me this talent to use, so I just stand there and sing.”—Ella Fitzgerald

 “You can’t explain jazz to anyone without losing the experience because it’s feeling, not words.”—Bill Evans

 “I’ve found you’ve got to look back at the old things and see them in new light.” –John Coltrane

Thelonious Monk

“The piano ain’t got no wrong notes.” Thelonious Monk

 “The idea is more important than the style or the contents of the style you’re trying to play in.”—Ornette Coleman

 “One thing I like about jazz is that it emphasized doing things differently from what other people were doing.”—Herbie Hancock

“I always wanted to be a spontaneous composer.”—Charles Mingus

 “That’s the thing about jazz: it’s free flowing it comes from your soul.”—Billy Crystal

 

Quotes by John Mayer and Chick Corea

JOHN MAYER

“It’s my failure to sound like my heroes that’s allowed me to sound like myself.”

“Fender Custom Shop made this nickel plated Strat…believe it or not, it sounds incredible.” – John Mayer

“I’m going to follow wherever you take me. I’m going to trust this guitar.”

“If you had started doing anything two weeks ago, by today you would have been two weeks better at it.”

“I’d like to think the best of me was still hiding up my sleeve.”

“Music has kept me centered through any kind of struggle in my life.”

John Mayer and Aaron Sterling

“Be yourself, even if that means being unsure and uneasy. Let someone else put you at ease. Meet them in the middle. Be sincere.”

“Born and Raised was the song that showed me that if you’re honest, if you’re a little braver than you want to be it can pay off.”

“I’m doing this because it’s my calling. Not because I’m here to show anybody anything.”

“Anybody who tells you to have a fallback plan are people who had a fallback plan, didn’t follow their dreams, and don’t want you to either.”

Chick Corea

CHICK COREA

“I got a chance to listen to and watch Thelonious Monk and his quartet play two shows a night, for six weeks. It was a great education. There was my university, man.”

“Without a doubt, my richest relationships are my long-term friendships with musical partners, because we make music together. That’s what we love to do with our lives.”

“Every time I see a musician – it doesn’t matter what age – that inspires me, there’s always a secret little wish that maybe we’ll play together, because that’s how I learn and grow and so forth, you know. But hopefully there’s a lot more.”

Chick Corea and Christian McBride

“The sound of the orchestra is one of the most magnificent musical sounds that has ever existed.”

“Art is a subject that is inundated with opinions. In fact, that’s all it is about is opinions.”

“You’ve got to create the space, then fill it.”

“Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.”

Chick Corea

More quotes by Chick Corea and other jazz masters!

Read about John Mayer and Chick Corea’s upcoming jazz album!

Chick Corea
John Mayer

 

 

 

 

 

John Mayer and Chick Corea—New Jazz Album in the works. Hope they release it soon!

Chick Corea and John Mayer recording at Electric Lady Studios in New York.

On May 11th 1997 Chick Corea received an Honorary Doctorate from Berklee College of Music, a few months later John Mayer came  to Boston to study, and last December they met while they were guests on Stevie Wonder’s “House Full of Toys” Concert. Chick Corea and John Mayer decided to jam and in the end of February 2014 they got together to record in Electric Lady Studios in New York.

They haven’t as of yet, released anything, but John Mayer posted a rough mix of one of their songs/improvisations called “Little Sur” followed by some insights on the creating process.

John Mayer and Chick Corea

Chick Corea also released a podcast where they discuss their project and Improvisation. For more of Chick Corea’s podcasts explore this link.

You can also watch them collaborate live on Late Night with Seth Meyers playing “After Midnight.”

Mayer has also presented 2 clinics at Berklee College of Music. The first you can find on PULSE and online.

John Mayer’s 2008 Clinic at Berklee College of Music: Information and Inspiration 

Part 1 Inspiration from Berklee

Part 2 What it takes to Succeed

Part 3 Turning Information into Inspiration

Part 4 Economy in Songwriting and Playing

Part 5 Working up the Dynamic of Your Solo

Part 6 Honesty in Songwriting

Part 7 The Songwriting Process

Part 8 Getting Started

Part 9 John Performs

You can read about the second clinic on our Berklee Blog or listen to it.

Words of wisdom from John Mayer and Chick Corea!

 

City Music Boston Ends the Year with Five Amazing Concerts

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In the David Friend Recital Hall on May 3rd, the Berklee City Music Mentoring Program held their annual Completion Ceremony Concert. At this event, the ensembles performed an array of songs, ranging from jazz standards to current Top 40 hits. The ten graduating seniors were also given parting gifts to take with them on their future endeavors. This year, the Mentoring Program had record numbers, with forty-one students and forty mentors combining to make one great concert with some notable performances.

The Jazz Ensemble debuted their original group composition, “Q-Improvise” led by Milad Zendehnam.  Featuring mixed meters and several different key signatures playing simultaneously, it was entertaining to the ear on several levels.

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The Rock Ensemble turned up the intensity in the room with their performance of Paramore’s “Ain’t It Fun” and “Still Into You”, finishing their set with “I Write Sins (Not Tragedies)” by Panic! At the Disco.

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The Pop Ensemble, dressed in matching black, blue, and white, ending the show on a an energetic high note, getting the crowd dancing in their seats with Top 40 hits from Estelle, Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake, and Pharrell Williams with an original rap thrown in.

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City Music Boston also presented three other concerts on the weekend of May 3-4: the Preparatory Academy Completion Ceremony, the Composer/Songwriter/Arranger Concert, and the High School Academy Completion Ceremony. City Music Boston ended its year on Saturday, May 17 with the annual Faculty Outreach Concert, with featured performances by Boston Public School students at Berklee Performance Center.

Congratulations to all of the students, teachers, and staff on another successful year!

Photos by Photos by Dave Green, courtesy of Berklee College of Music

Sam and Carmen- Winners of JAM Transcription Challenge !

With Jazz Appreciation Month behind us, we’d like to congratulate the Winners of BCMN Jazz Appreciation Month Transcription Challenge!

Saxophone player, Sam Spear from The Music Settlement and pianist, Carmen Cheung, from Sarah McLachlan School of Music both successfully transcribed and played Chet Baker’s solo on Autumn Leaves.

Check out their videos and enjoy their stories behind the process of transcribing the jazz master’s solo.

congrats

1. What was the hardest part of this transcription?

Sam:  The hardest part about transcribing this solo is that Chet Baker tended to play “behind the beat” a lot, which makes dictating some of his rhythms on paper tricky.

Carmen: Surprisingly, even though this was my very first transcription, I didn’t find it painstakingly difficult to replay the segment over and over again on my phone while I sat beside a piano and wrote down what I heard in my own shorthand notation. Instead, the hardest part was actually meeting the deadline because I decided to do the challenge on the morning of the due date and underestimated the time I would need to get all the notes and rhythms, record and upload, and post online on Facebook. (I had school that day too).

2. What did you enjoy the most?    

Sam:  My favorite part of transcribing is noticing how it’s easier every time you do it. A year ago, this solo would have taken me days to transcribe but it only took me a couple hours this time around. It’s also interesting to see the melodic and harmonic ideas that are prominent in various improvisers’ vocabularies.

Carmen:  I listened to Chet Baker’s solo repeatedly and each time I listened to it, I discovered something new – that was what I enjoyed the most. Whether it’d be a note I didn’t catch earlier or a rhythm I’d mistranscribed, it felt like I had discovered a hidden treasure. I can say that I can sing the solo by memory now! The whole experience was very serendipitous.  Learning how to use noteflight was very fun too.

 

3. What have you learned in the process?    

Sam:  By writing down and learning one of Chet Baker’s solos, I was able to vicariously experience his thought process when improvising. The main takeaway from this solo for me is his use of motifs not just melodically but rhythmically as well. There is great continuity in this solo.

Carmen: I’ve learnt that transcribing is not an easy thing to do, but when you get into it, it’s very enjoyable.

4. What was the prevailing reason for choosing to transcribe Chet Baker’s solo over the two other options?    

Sam: Ironically, I had to complete a different transcription project earlier this year in which I had to transcribe two choruses from the track “Freddie Freeloader” and Cannonball’s solo was an option. I couldn’t transcribe his solo then either because I had previously worked on it out of a transcription book so I transcribed two choruses of Coltrane instead. I chose Chet Baker’s solo on “Autumn Leaves” because he was the only other horn player listed and I was curious about how he approached the tune.

Carmen:  The prevailing reason for choosing to transcribe Chet Baker’s solo was that it stuck in my head the first time I heard it. Trumpet seemed easier to me (if I had to choose between piano or trumpet) and I wanted to transcribe a trumpet solo for myself so I could play it on trumpet. I also hoped that it would be able to help me with improvisation on trumpet. (I find improvising easier on piano rather than trumpet).

Jazz Quotes

Here are some quotes from Jazz Masters. Be inspired by their wisdom and music!

“Gray skies are just clouds passing over.”—Duke Ellington

 “One very important thing I learned from (Thelonious) Monk was his complete dedication to music. That was his reason for being alive. Nothing else mattered except music, really.”—Sonny Rollins

“Regardless of what you play the biggest thing is keeping the feel going.” —Wes Montgomery

“Jazz is the language of the emotions.”—Charles Mingus

 “Jazz is the big brother of the blues. If a guy’s playing blues like we play, he’s in high school. When he starts playing jazz it’s like going on to college, to a school of higher learning.”—B. B. King

 “We all have to open our minds, stretch forth, take chances and venture out musically to try and arrive at something new and different.”—Horace Silver

 I think the main thing a musician would like to do is give a picture to the listener of the many wonderful things that he knows of and senses in the universe.”  − John Coltrane

“The only thing better than singing is more singing.”—Ella Fitzgerald

Billie Holiday , Lester Young, Ben Webster, Gerry Mulligan

“When Lester plays, he almost seems to be singing; one can almost hear the words.”—Billie Holiday

“The beauty of jazz is that it is malleable. People address to suit their own personalities.”—Pat Metheny

 “There are four qualities essential to a great jazzman. They are taste, courage, individuality, and irreverence. These are the qualities I want to retain in my music.”—Stan Getz

 “Jazz is music made by and for people who have chosen to feel good in spite of conditions.”—Johnny Griffin

 “Sometime you have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself.”—Miles Davis

 

Listen to their music on our playlist!

Jazz Quotes

Here are some quotes from Jazz Masters. Be inspired by their wisdom and music!

“Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.”—Ella Fitzgerald

“If you don’t make mistakes, you aren’t really trying.”—Coleman Hawkins

Billie Holiday and Coleman Hawkins

“The whole basis of my singing is feeling. Unless I feel something, I can’t sing.”—Billie Holiday

“It’s very difficult for me to dislike an artist. No matter what he’s creating, the fact that he’s experiencing the joy of creation makes me feel like we’re in a brotherhood of some kind… we’re in it together.”—Chick Corea

“Listening is the key to everything good in music.”—Pat Metheny

“Clouds float in the same pattern only once.”—Wayne Shorter

“I merely took the energy it takes to pout and wrote some blues.”—Duke Ellington

“It’s taken me all my life to learn what not to play.”—Dizzy Gillespie

“Originality’s the thing. You can have tone and technique and a lot of other things but without originality you ain’t really nowhere. Gotta be original.”—Lester Young

“I’m trying to play the truth of what I am. The reason why it’s difficult is because I’m changing all the time.”—Charles Mingus

“Jazz is the type of music that can absorb so many things and still be jazz.”—Sonny Rollins

“Jazz has the power to make men forget their differences and come together… Jazz is the personification of transforming overwhelmingly negative circumstances into freedom, friendship, hope, and dignity.”—Quincy Jones

Miles Davis

“Nothing is out of the question for me. I’m always thinking about creating. My future starts when I wake up in the morning and see the light…Then I’m grateful.”—Miles Davis

“One thing I like about jazz, kid, is that I don’t know what’s going to happen next. Do you?”—Bix Beiderbecke

 

Listen to their music on our playlist!

 

 

Everlasting A Love Supreme

A Love Supreme, John Coltrane’s signature album, was recorded in one session with his quartet on December 9, 1964 at the Van Gelder Studio in New Jersey and released by Impulse! Records in February of the following year.

The intricate piece flourished from a four-note seed of a relatively simple idea based on the words “a love supreme”, that allowed the musicians—tenor saxophonist John Coltrane, pianist McCoy Tyner, drummer Elvin Jones and bassist Jimmy Garrison—to subtly and carefully entwine it into a 33-minute long four-part suite.

The four movements “Acknowledgement,” “Resolution,” “Pursuance” and “Psalms” symbolize the stepping-stones of Coltrane’s spiritual quest and struggle for purity while overcoming drug and alcohol addiction, which resulted in being fired from Miles Davis’ group. As a true jazz alchemist, Coltraine transformed suffering into a hymn, announcing a major thematic trend in his later works.

poem love supreme

In the manuscript, Coltrane writes that the A Love Supreme motif should be “played in all keys together.” In “Acknowledgement,” he indeed repeats the basic theme in all keys culminating with famous chanting of the theme at the end of the movement. Lewis Porter, the author of John Coltrane: His Life and Music (1999) says: “To me, he’s giving you a message here. Now he’s saying it’s everywhere. It’s in all 12 keys. Anywhere you look, you’re going to find this “Love Supreme”.”

Coltrane was entirely involved in every aspect of A Love Supreme: recording the chant, writing the liner notes and composing a devotional poem to accompany the crowning movement “Psalms” where he performs what he calls a “musical recitation of prayer”, “playing” the words on the saxophone instead of speaking them. Some scholars have considered this performance an homage to the sermons of African American preachers.

Even though there are no recorded interviews of him speaking about the concept behind his masterpiece, this exalting piece of music held an evident personal significance for the ingenious saxophonist. In fact, Coltrane gave very few verbal directions even to his band mates. Tyner remembers the unusual, almost magical atmosphere surrounding the session and calls the album a culmination and natural extension of chemistry honed through years of playing together live.

Powerful and vulnerable at the same time, A Love Supreme exudes with the attuned emotional effusions of each member of Coltrane’s quartet, bringing together the hard bop sensibilities of his early career, Miles Davis-inspired modal influences and the free jazz style he later adopted.

The album’s influence has been extensive from John McLaughlin and Carlos Santana guitar version of “Acknowledgement” to vocal versions by Will Downing, José James and Kurt Elling. The suite also forms four tracks on the Branford Marsalis Quartet album titled Footsteps of Our Fathers. Wynton Marsalis followed his brother’s footsteps and recorded the suite in 2003 with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.

By December 1965 Coltrane’s monumental achievement was named Downbeat magazine’s Album of the Year, nominated for two Grammy Awards and listed by Rolling Stone as one of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Quite popular for a jazz album, selling about 500,000 copies by 1970, it still remains a doorway to Coltrane’s music to many people who wouldn’t consider themselves jazz fans.

 

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As further testimony to the recording’s importance, the manuscript for the album is part of the collection of the Smithsonian Institution along with 25 rare and never before displayed photographs from the A Love Supreme recording session and one of Coltrane’s three principal saxophones that his son Ravi generously donated in March 2014.

“My music is the spiritual expression of what I am — my faith, my knowledge, my being. When you begin to see the possibilities of music, you desire to do something really good for people, to help humanity free itself from its hang-ups…I want to speak to their souls.” ― John Coltrane

Fun Fact: Coltrane’s home in Dix Hills, Long Island, has been considered as the site of inspiration for A Love Supreme. Now, Coltrane’s son Ravi, Carlos Santana and others want to turn this house into a museum and learning center. They are trying to raise the funds to make this dream a reality.