In 2019, the Atlantic City Jazz Fest made its debut in America’s Playground, and after going dark for a year due to the pandemic, it plans to come roaring back to life noon Saturday, Sept. 11, at the brand new Orange Loop Amphitheater.
The fest brings with it an exciting lineup of artists, offering the best in smooth jazz, soul and funk. Pieces of a Dream, Marian Meadows and Justin Lee Schultz are just a few of the incredible players that will be performing as part of this musically rich event.
And to get things warmed up, Bourre will host a Friday night jam session featuring Jeff Bradshaw & friends with Eddie Morgan & REK’D 4 JAZZ, which will be free to those who purchased tickets to the festival. There will also be an official afterparty at Bourre beginning 9 p.m. Saturday. Tickets for the afterparty are $20 and must be purchased in advance on the festival’s website.
We had a chance to chat with one of Philadelphia’s own trombone heroes, Jeff Bradshaw, in advance of his performances both at the Atlantic City Jazz Fest and the Friday night jam session.
Ryan Loughlin: What originally made you want to play an instrument?
Jeff Bradshaw: My father. I was raised around brass instrumentation for the majority of my young life. It was crazy to be in church and have an all-brass band there with a tuba and everything, but that’s the way it was. It was kind of like New Orleans meets church. My father was a minister, but he also played five instruments, one of which was the trombone, which is really why I chose that instrument.
RL: Who were some of your biggest influences outside of the church?
JB: My idol is (legendary trombonist) Fred Wesley. I just saw him about a week ago at one of his shows. He called me up on stage and gave me his horn to play! That moment was indescribable.
RL: You have played on albums by many legendary artists, including one of Michael Jackson’s. What was that like?
JB: What happened was I got to play on a song called “Butterflies.” The song was written by Marsha Ambrosius of the group Floetry, who I had toured with for many years, and Andre Harris was producing it. So Marsha and Andre were about to go back to New York to finish the song, and they let me hear it first. And when they did that, I hummed a horn line to go along with it. And they were like, “Oh my God – you have to put this on here so we can let Michael hear it!” So, I said “OK!” But it was like 3 in the morning at the time. But we went back into the studio in the middle of the night and recorded it, and the rest is history! It was a great opportunity.
RL: Have you been able to perform much since the pandemic began?
JB: Well, for a while there we weren’t able to perform at all. I was on tour with Patti LaBelle in March of 2020, and suddenly they were like, “This is our last show. We’re going home.” It was out of nowhere, and so like a lot of artists around the country, I started doing Facebook and Instagram concerts live right from my living room. I would play songs from my new album “Stronger” and talk about them to my audience. And that was good, but it’s been like heaven to be able to get back out there and play for a live audience again and to feel that energy from the crowd. Because that’s what you miss. That energy from the fans. It just feels so good.
RL: Are we going to get to hear some tracks from the new album when you perform in Atlantic City?
JB: Absolutely! The new album is called “Stronger,” and I will be playing songs from it, and I will be bringing copies with me to sign and to sell. I can’t wait. I love festivals really. It’s an amazing environment to be outside and see many of your fans and all of the other artists. I grew up listening to these guys and so to be on a festival with these legends, it’s such a blessing.