The title of this debut by trumpeter and vocalist John Michael Bradford, Something Old, Something New, accurately describes the music within and his continued interest in both traditional and modern jazz. It begins with Bradford blowing hard on King Oliver’s classic, “West End Blues,” executed in an authentically slow tempo that screams that these are New Orleans musicians. The trumpeter, who came up surrounded by this city’s music playing with brass bands, also offers some lovely, old school vocaleese on this timeless song. Other tunes from this stylistic portion of the album include “Paul Barbarin Second Line” and Hoagy Carmichael’s “New Orleans.”
On the recording, Bradford, a NOCCA graduate, utilizes a wealth of musicians to match the material. For instance, bass drummer Benny Jones is in on the beat for the classic jazz tunes along with clarinetist Rex Gregory. The trumpeter switches gears for the last half of the disc introducing original, modern material he wrote or co-wrote. Bradford constantly rotates bassists, pianists, drummers and the like—Chris Severin to Max Moran or Jasen Weaver, Rickie Monie to Jesse McBride or Shea Pierre and Joe Dyson to Alfred Jordan, respectively. They all have one thing in common; they are all ace players. Bradford also brings in a number of this city’s best horn players. He and saxophonist Derek Douget impressively trade bars on a fine contemporary original, “Crossroads.”
Bradford teams well with alto saxophonist Donald Harrison Jr, with whom he enjoyed the opportunity to study and travel. On “Monie,” Harrison goes for the edges before swinging it out with the help of two of his other former students, bassist Max Moran and drummer Joe Dyson. Then Bradford’s trumpet continues that push.
Something Old, Something New brings together generations of musicians that play music without stylistic boundaries. Bradford stands strongly among them with his pure trumpet and sincerely delivered vocals that are complimented by his understanding that the past forever lives in the music’s future.