A New York-based Latin jazz flutist, Andrea began to make her mark in the late seventies with some of the most popular Charanga bands in New York City, including Charanga'76, Típica New York, Conjunto Libre, The Benito Sextet, Joe Quijano and Charanga America. With a background that combined study at the Manhattan School of Music, with classical flute masters Harold Bennett and Samuel Baron, and jazz greats Hubert Laws, Eddie Daniels, Barry Harris, Yusef Lateef and George Coleman, she seemed to be set for a great career, especially after winning the 1974 Louis Armstrong Award for outstanding Jazz student from Jazz Interactions. But her next career moves were not guaranteed to rocket her to stardom; she went to live abroad for some time and then focused on raising a daughter while working as an educator, performing part time. In recent years, however, Andrea has refocused on her music, producing two fine albums, Remembered Dreams from 1999 and 2003's Back With Sweet Passion. These, plus her performances around New York and elsewhere recently earned her a Life Time Achievement Award from Latin USA. Now the rest of the jazz world now needs to catch up.
For her new recording, Andrea has teamed up with another fine talent from the New York area. Percussionist Wilson "Chembo" Corneil is from Brooklyn, New York, of Puerto Rican extraction. He has studied at The Harbor Conservatory for the Performing Arts in New York, and also at the prestigious La Escuela Nacional de Arte in Havana, Cuba under the direction of the great Chucho Valdés. He now teaches at SUNY Purchase, Conservatory of Music, while carrying on a busy career, performing and recording with artists from a wide array of backgrounds. Here he is teamed with drummers Chris Eddleton and Vince Cherico and bassist Carlo De Rosa to form a rhythm team which is both dynamic and precise-and very well recorded. Andrea works through a very interesting program of standards by Ellington, Bird, Coltrane and others, giving each a Latin treatment that retains the jazz elements in a balance that many Latin jazz artists fail to achieve. Her flute work is excellent throughout, fleet, full-toned, full of surprising little twists and turns. As an added, indeed an inspired, bonus, she is joined on four tracks by trombonist Steve Turre. Turre is top of the heap as a jazz trombonist but he also has a great affinity for Latin music, a genre within which the trombone has an extensive background, as does the flute. The surprise is how well they work together. Turre has expressed his impatience with the dominance of trumpet/sax front lines and has experimented with various colors on his own recordings. Here he and Andrea demonstrate what a rich sonority trombone and flute make together. In addition, they compliment each other as soloists, the trombone's gruff forthrightness contrasting brilliantly with the more delicate flute lines. And Turre's use of mutes is always masterful; here it is tellingly illustrated on "Chelsea Bridge."
Overall, the recording demonstrates the same care that Andrea has taken over all her outings, her choice of both material and sidemen important to the success of the session. The result is Latin jazz that has all the elements we enjoy in that medium plus a special quality, a certain je ne sais quoi that is all Andrea's.
Two other Latin jazz flutists, Nestor Torres and Dave Valentin have received Grammy awards for their efforts. Grammy voters would do well to consider Andrea Brachfeld so that she no longer has to be a closely guarded secret!
One additional note. Pianist Hilton Ruiz was a well-loved and highly-respected artist who died under suspicious circumstances earlier this year while visiting New Orleans. One of the finest pianists in Afro-Cuban jazz and a student of Mary Lou Williams, Ruiz was a child prodigy who appeared at Carnegie Recital Hall when he was eight, and went on to work with with many Latin bands as well as jazz artists from Joe Newman, Frank Foster, and Freddie Hubbard to Rahsaan Roland Kirk, George Coleman, Charles Mingus, Betty Carter, Archie Shepp, Clark Terry, and Chico Freeman, among others. This was his last recording and he plays beautifully. It deserves our attention for that reason alone.