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.

Uniquely Swinging New Orleans Classic

johnny dodds

Johnny Dodds’s clarinet galvanized some of the greatest jazz bands of the twenties and thirties.  He was one of the earliest pioneers of New Orleans jazz, who began playing in the Crescent City before joining the mass exodus of musicians to Chicago during the twenties. Dodd’s rich tone and cascading runs were first heard on record with King Oliver’s legendary Creole Jazz Band.

Mostly self-taught, Dodds immediately earned the respect of his fellow musicians in the jazz capital of the prewar era.  Dodds rarely led his own groups but played with a wide variety of bands, often alongside fellow New Orleans expatriates as well as the Windy City’s top talent. When a young Louis Armstrong organized his first recording sessions as a leader, he picked Dodds as his clarinetist.  The recordings of Armstrong’s’ Hot Fives in turn became watershed moments in the development of jazz and American popular music.

Dodd’s style is rooted in the traditional New Orleans collective sound but Dodds was also an especially passionate blues player:

His intense, driving sound also makes fast numbers such as “Wolverine Blues” into uniquely swinging experiences:

In honor of Johnny Dodds’s birthday, Berklee City Music is proud to share the deeply blue and red-hot music of this jazz original.

Stax Music Academy Summer Soul Tour

Stax Music Academy at Tipitina's & Friends Student Music Showcase Photo Credit: KCutta Productions
Stax Music Academy at Tipitina’s & Friends Student Music Showcase
Photo Credit: KCutta Productions

The Summer Music Experience at Stax Music Academy took 25 students on a trip through the Mississippi Delta, performing at some of the region’s top blues venues and culminating with two concerts in New Orleans.

First stop was Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, Mississippi.  While in Clarksdale, the students also toured the Delta Blues Museum.  From there, the Summer Soul Tour moved on to Indianola, Mississippi, where the students performed the same evening at Club Ebony.

Fulfilling a last-minute request for Saturday night, the students were the featured entertainment in New Orleans for the Texas Southern University’s National Alumni Conference.  Between sets, the students were treated to dinner at the famed Sweet Lorraine’s Jazz Club in New Orleans 9th Ward, where they witnessed both the remaining destruction and new revitalization in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Before heading home, the students performed at New Orleans’ legendary Tipitina’s music club during a youth music festival hosted by the Tipitina’s Foundation.  Like Stax Music Academy, Tipitina’s Foundation is a Berklee City Music Network member.  Click here to read the full article.

Students were also mentioned in a featured article in Baton Rouge’s The Advocate, click here to read more.

Stax Music Academy at Tipitina's & Friends Student Music Showcase Photo Credit: KCutta Productions
Stax Music Academy at Tipitina’s & Friends Student Music Showcase
Photo Credit: KCutta Productions

Jazz Artist in Residence: Donald Harrison

Donald Harrison will be the jazz artist in residence at Tulane University for the 2013-2014 school year.  During that time he will teach six masterclasses each semester as well as theory and improvisation classes.

Donald is a Berklee College of Music alumni and has performed with many of greats including Art Blakey, Roy Haynes, Miles Davis, Ron Carter, Billy Cobham, and Dr. John among others.

He is also the co-founder and the artistic director of the Tipitina’s Intern Program at Tipitina’s Foundation, a Berklee City Music Network member, where he teaches music, theory and history to students.

Please join us in congratulating him on being Tulane’s jazz artist in residence!

Visit our previous post on The King of Nouveau Swing for more information on Donald Harrison.

New Video: Tipitina’s Students and Donald Harrison

Check out our new video of Tipitina’s Foundation featuring students from the Internship Program and Donald Harrison discussing the importance of recording in helping students advance as musicians.

The Tipitina’s Internship Program is an after school jazz performance program for high school students ages 13 through 19, and is led by artistic director Donald Harrison.  The program is free of charge and focuses on instrumental performance, music recording, music theory, and music career professionalism.

Do You Know What Music Means In New Orleans?

New Orleans has played a pivotal role in the development of American music, and Berklee City Music is fortunate to count three outstanding Network members from this cultural mecca.

The Roots of Music offers tuition-free music education and academic tutoring, with its marching band continuing a proud tradition of the New Orleans community.  The core faculty offers instruction in band, brass, curriculum and percussion while partnering with Tulane University to invite additional instructors.  Among other accomplishments, the Roots of Music’s Marching Crusaders can be seen in the Tournament of Roses parade this January in California.

Under the guidance of their artistic director, acclaimed saxophonist Donald Harrison, Tipitina’s Foundation teaches middle and high school students instrumental skills and recording/production techniques free of charge.  Students also participate in workshops with musicians, producers, and scholars.  In addition, Tipitina’s Foundation provides instruments to local schools and operates business development centers for artists across Louisiana.  Students from Tipitina’s Internship Program recently travelled to Japan as part of a cultural exchange program.

Young Audiences of Louisiana works in local schools to provide a variety of programs that combine the arts, academics and life skills to a range of audiences. Programs include afterschool and summer classes, community performances, artist residencies, early childhood arts instruction and professional development for educators.  In November, Young Audiences received approval to open a charter school that will “emphasize academic excellence and use research-based Young Audiences arts-integration programs to engage students and support teaching and learning.”  The school will open its doors in August 2013.

These unique organizations preserve New Orleans’ rich musical heritage while educating and inspiring new generations.  Berklee City Music is proud to partner with all three and congratulates them on their myriad accomplishments.

VIDEOS:

StubHub Names The Roots of Music Their First Rising Star

Roots of Music Band Performs in the Rose Parade

Disasters, Jazz Unite Young New Orleans, Japanese Musicians

PHOTOS:

Tipitina’s Foundation in Japan

ARTICLES:

Jefferson Parish School Board Approves Young Audiences Charter

New Jefferson Charter is a Creative Option

Get watching! 50,000 views for the Roots of Music

StubHub Promotion through Super Bowl Weekend to Support The Roots of Music

StubHub has committed to donate up to an additional $50,000 (adding up to a $100,000 total donation) to The Roots of Music if the film reaches 50,000 views by Super Bowl Sunday. The additional $50,000 in funds would come from the StubHub Foundation, a corporate advised fund of Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

And, a little bit about the Roots of Music:
Roots of Music uses New Orleans’ musical heritage as a stepping stone to changing lives. We’re an organization that helps at-risk kids through music education, tutoring and mentoring—unlocking their potential as individuals, and building a nationally-recognized marching band along the way.We’re using New Orleans’ musical heritage to build its future. It’s a big vision, but your support can make a huge difference in a child’s life—and eventually, an entire generation of New Orleans youth.

stubhubROM