Smitty: My next guest here at JazzMonthly.com is an incredible musician, a trumpeter who has some explosive grooves, an amazing vibe, and I must tell you, her latest CD is one that you must get for yourself. She has a great history of jazz music, with an intense allure, and she’s some kind of wonderful. Please welcome the incredible Ms. Cindy Bradley. Cindy, how are ya, my friend?
Cindy Bradley (CB): Wow, thanks so much, Smitty. I’m doing great, especially after that. How are you?
Smitty: (Laughs.) Oh, I’m wonderful, thanks. Hey, it’s great to talk to you. Man oh man, we’ve been trying to do this for a little while, so it’s just so great to have you at JazzMonthly.com.
CB: Thanks so much. Likewise.
Smitty: Yeah, and I’m loving the record. Wow!
Smitty: “Just A Little Bit.” And when I first listened to the record, I said “This is not just a little bit.” (Laughs.)
CB: Well, I actually chose the title because it’s trying to say that things are just getting started, so there’s a lot more where this came from, but I’m really proud of this CD because it’s not only my first solo album, but it was done over a period of time when I was moving around a lot, going to school, touring, and gigging all over, so it involved a lot of my closest friends and just a lot of talented people worked with me on it, so I’m really grateful to them. We had a lot of fun.
Smitty: Yeah, I can tell because the vibe is kickin’ and the entire record is just a party, but I could also just detect some great sensibilities of your musicianship. Now, you started playing at a young age, is that right? The trumpet?
CB: Well, yeah, I started playing the trumpet in fourth grade in an elementary school program.
Smitty: Wow. So why the trumpet? I mean, you know, girls pick up a clarinet or the piano.
CB: (Laughs.) Right. I get asked that question a lot and the answer’s probably not what people expect to hear, but before I played the trumpet, I started playing the piano when I was around five years old, and when I did come into the music program in fourth grade and we could choose an instrument, I remember the teacher gave us all permission slips where we had to write which instrument we wanted to play and have our parents sign it, and I actually forgot to bring mine home, so when the day came that the slips were due, I didn’t think I was gonna get to play anything, but this particular teacher knew that I played the piano, so she sought me out to ask why I didn’t want to play something else, and she let me sign up but I had to pick my instrument right there on the spot, so I had to think really quickly and I knew my brother’s friends all played the trumpet, so I just kinda picked it, you know? (Both laugh.) I used to think that I ended up with the trumpet by accident, but the older I’ve gotten and the more I’ve fallen in love with the instrument, I like to think of it more like it was just meant to be.
Smitty: Wow. So after you selected this instrument, were there some regrets or did you just say “I’m gonna do this”?
CB: No, there were never any regrets and actually when I was around twelve, my father took me to see a big band that was made up of all kids and he took me to talk to the director of the group and helped me get involved with it, and I started doing little short tours and playing jazz music with them every weekend, so even when I was in sixth, seventh grade, I mean, there were many Monday mornings when I was barely making it into school the next day.
Smitty: Yeah, I can imagine.
CB: So yeah, it gave me an experience of being on stage very young and with such a frequency that I think it shaped my development as a young musician and a performer really early on, so I was on stage right away, and I loved it right from the start. There were never any regrets on the choice.
Smitty: Was there a shock factor when you performed live in front of people, you know, that they were surprised or shocked that you had the trumpet?
CB: There’s definitely a shock factor. There always has been a shock factor and that’s one of the things I really like doing…. is breaking stereotypes and showing people that a woman can do this and play this instrument in a pretty fierce way, so it’s very motivating to get that type of response from people and I wish there were a lot more women out there doing it. There seems to be more and more, and the more the better, in my opinion.
Smitty: Yeah, and you’ve studied quite a bit as well, haven’t you? Because I know you have a degree in trumpet performance at the New England Conservatory?
CB: Yes. I went to Ithaca College first in Central New York and I got a Bachelors degree in jazz studies, and then I went on to graduate school at the New England Conservatory and that was an amazing experience. I studied with some incredible teachers from Jerry Bergonzi and Bob Brookmeyer to Steve Lacy and one of my most influential mentors was trumpet player John McNeil.