by Dom Jones
I met John Michael in George Russell, III’s Directed Study Ensemble last semester, and automatically assumed that he was a senior. His skill, professionalism, and the speed at which he picked things up just made it seem as though he were older. Finding out that we were a part of the same entering class made me also question where I’d been to have missed such a talent among all of the talent at Berklee. When JM told me that he was releasing an album, I was super excited because, at this point, I’ve seen him play with so many people, and his ability to tastefully elevate the music he’s playing is inspiring.
The beginning of the liner notes of JM’s debut are indicative of his passion for what he does:
… is a part of the fabled folklore of what a bride is supposed to wear upon marriage. Why reference this in terms of the maiden voyage of John Michael Bradford’s debut recording? Well, other than the obvious reference in the title, playing music is indeed a marriage. Sometimes an unholy one, but a marriage, nonetheless. As Duke Ellington said:
“Music is my mistress, and she plays second fiddle to no one.”
Still young yet, this debut seems a long time coming. At nine years old, John Michael’s grandfather gave him his old high school trumpet, and within a week, he began playing a New Orleans staple, “Second Line.” Not long after this, Mr. Bradford was invited out to Jackson Square in the New Orleans French Quarter. From there he began making money playing trumpet and singing on the streets and at local events. By the age of ten, he made enough money, through performing, to buy his first professional trumpet.
His list of accomplishments are already long: winning the Seeking Satchmo Competition twice; the ASCAP Louis Prima Award; entering NOCCA as a level three student; being selected as a Vail Jazz All Star, Vail, Colorado; being invited to be a member of the Ravinia’s Stean Jazz Institute, Chicago, Illinois; National Young Arts Finalist (Silver Award), Miami, Florida; Jelly Roll to Jam Award (NOCCA); Grammy Jazz Band, Los Angeles, California; National Thelonious Monk High School All Star Septet; Bern Jazz Fellow, Bern, Switzerland; full scholarships to the Louis Armstrong Jazz Camp, Skidmore Jazz Institute, and Berklee Five Week Performance Camp; and a scholarship to Julliard. Aren’t we lucky he chose Berklee?!
If you haven’t heard John Michael Bradford play yet, do yourself a favor and catch one of his many shows coming up, and DEFINITELY grab your copy of his debut album!
WHO’S YOUR FAVORITE MUSICIAN ON CAMPUS? SOUND OFF IN THE COMMENTS!