Posted On Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Jeff Bradshaw and Friends – Home

Philadelphia-born Jeff Bradshaw has certainly paid his dues as a musician over the years. Starting out as a sideman in a soul/hip-hop brass band in his hometown, he was first noted by mainstream artists when he recorded and toured with vocalist Jill Scott. In 2003 – almost ten years into his career – he was finally able to make his debut “Bone Deep” (Hidden Beach) – one of the few trombone-led R&B records of its time.

Bradshaw has had a long career as a supporting musician –  he has recorded with luminaries like Erykah Badu, Floetry, Darius Rucker, Michael Jackson, The Roots and Musiq Soulchild to name a few. His goal, however, has been to change the perception of the trombone as a lead instrument (a privilege usually afforded to the saxophone or trumpet). He clearly achieved this, joining the select club of trombonist bandleaders that includes luminaries like Delfayo Marsalis and Trombone Shorty.

On his fourth release, Bradshaw brings together an all-star cast of collaborators for a live album captured live at the Kimmel Center in the spring of 2014. Under the musical direction of Robert Glasper (who also executive-produced the album) and backed by a 20-piece orchestra, he shares the spotlight with the likes of Bilal, Take 6, Eric Roberson, Marsha Ambrosius and many others, resulting into a magical set that mixed neo-soul, classic R&B, jazz and hip-hop in one seamless package.

Among the highlights “All Time Love,” a close duet between Roberson and Tweet that ends with a playful flirtation between the two singers that begins with a dexterous intro from Glasper.  Trombone Shorty joins Bradshaw in “New Orleans Groove,” a goose bump-inducing tribute to Crescent City, and smooth jazz saxophonist Najee lays down a funky duet with the bandleader on “For Grover.”

Other notable moments are “I Do Sincerely,” a sensual tune led by Marsha Ambrosious, who completely knocks it out of the park.  “All This Love” and “Beyond The Stars,” are a beautiful showcase of Take 6’s amazing vocal chemistry.

The only thing I did not really like were the edits at the end of some of the tracks. For instance, “All Time Love” fades out just as Roberson begins improvising his musical flirtation with Tweet, and the same happens with “New Orleans Groove,” when the orchestra comes back and the two trombonists begin soloing again. This was likely necessary to fit the constraints of a physical CD, but hopefully there will be an unedited version made available digitally in the near future.

Stream Home here.