Body and Soul

J.W. Peine

Michelle Bradley lives in New York City is a member of the Metropolitan Opera Company and a recent recipient of the Lindeman Award. We came to know each other during the making of an Art House film with Daniel Jircik, a dear friend of mine from HSPVA in the mid 70’s. The film and soundtrack which features Bob Dorough and his music called for a gospel tune. For the occasion, Bob pulled out of his archive a 1964 tune he wrote with Fran Landesman entitled “A Few Days of Glory”. At the time we recorded the album Michelle was a regularly featured performer at the legendary Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church in Houston. She was a logical choice for this tune.
While making the film we released the Eulalia recording, which was the soundtrack for the film plus additional recordings made concurrently. We were very pleased when Eulalia earned a four star review in Downbeat, made the list of best albums of 2014 and received excellent reviews in the US and abroad.
(It is both touching and sad to note that Michelle and Phil Woods were featured on “A Few Days of Glory” and it would be one of Michelle’s first recordings and one of Phil’s last.)
What impressed us all about Michelle was the magnificent quality of her voice and her soulful phrasing. It wasn’t just her range but the richness of voice at all octaves that contributes to her special talent. Her love of music is evident in every note she sings and then there is an otherworldly depth of color to her voice (and Michelle is a soprano ….she hits a double E at the end of “Glory”). I was pleased to hear later that my affinity for Michelle was as enthusiastically shared by Marilyn Horne, her teacher, friend and patron.
We all had so much fun making that recording that Michelle later approached me to produce a record of jazz standards. It was no effort to at all to enlist the “A”-list musicians to help make it happen. Triple Grammy winning bassist Tim Ruiz, Shelley Carroll on flute and tenor sax, Art Fristoe on keys, Jerre’ Jackson and Richard Cholakian on drums, Greg Petito and Brennan Nase on guitar and the great Andre Hayward on Trombone. The list of Andre and Shelley’s credits go on for as long as your arm but what you can’t quantify is the pure joy they bring into every room …and it comes through on this recording. Their contribution was huge and the rhythm section swings hard, is locked in and smoking.
I would not have attempted this project without the help of my dear friend Art Fristoe. His playing helps makes this record but he also served as co-producer. He is a great vocalist in his own right and serious music student with an encyclopedic knowledge of the art form. His contribution as co-producer cannot be overstated.
Another one of my partners in crime, Grammy nominated vocalist Janet Lawson of The New School, fell in love with Michelle at first listen and is working with her on her jazz chops. In her words “…..her beautiful spirit comes through in every magnificent sound she shares….”
I think this recording is a natural reflection of who she is as a singer and a person. We had fun making this record and I like to think that comes through. In 2015 Ira Gitler and I sat down together and listened to Misty and Body and Soul from this recording. His health has not been great but he perked up and delivered a classic Gitlerism, “…an impeccable singer with heart…” I think you will agree. And did I mention that the band is smoking?