When Cindy Bradley was in the fourth grade, she forgot to sign up to play an instrument in the school band.
A kind teacher knew she had taken piano lessons and asked her if she wanted to play. She told Bradley that she could just circle a picture of an instrument on the registration sheet, and she randomly chose the trumpet.
“I played trumpet in middle school, but it wasn’t until I joined a swing style big band outside of school that I fell in love with it,” Bradley says. “I got to improvise on solos and found that jazz music was a style of music that spoke to me.”
Today Bradley is a premier trumpet, flugelhorn player and composer on the contemporary and smooth jazz scene, offering soft, melodic songs imparting strong emotion.
- She’s been compared to some of her own inspirations, Freddie Hubbard and Lee Morgan.
- She won the 2011 American Smooth Jazz Award for Best New Artist.
- She won 2011 Best New Artist of the Year and Best Brass Player at the Contemporary Jazz Awards.
- Her last album, “Unscripted” reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Album Chart.
“One of my favorite things about jazz music is the collaboration with other musicians,” Bradley says. “You play with different people, improv, share ideas. It makes the experience different every time and it’s the most fun.”
Bradley will jam with a line-up of world-class female jazz musicians at the upcoming Palm Springs Women’s Jazz Festival, April 3-6, in Palm Springs. The event showcases different styles and types of jazz.
- See relate story: Palm Springs Women's Jazz Festival Strikes a Chord
“I play a lot of different styles…mellow sounds, smooth jazz, funk, R &B, high energy fusion especially for live shows,” she says. “I’m excited to collaborate with Jazz in Pink with all female artists coming together with their talents. I think that this festival is important because there are so few female musicians compared to male that when you get so many together it’s a once in a lifetime thing. It shows what women are capable of…it’s a chance to expose people to our music who may want to pursue their own dreams. I think it’s a beautiful thing!”
When not stunning the jazz world with her artistry, most folks are surprised to find that Bradley is also a full-time fourth grade band teacher in New Jersey.
She juggles both worlds by teaching during the week and flying out most weekends to play or record. She says she loves the summer festival season because she plays a bit more, but she’s passionate about influencing aspiring jazz musicians while encouraging her students to grow in their appreciation of all music.
“I love both teaching and being a musician,” she says. “It’s hard to get young kids interested in bands. Jazz isn’t as current. I try to bring my experience to expose them to different genres.”
Bradley often plays instruments in front of her classroom including her signature “flumpet”. Often seen on stage with her, the hot pink hybrid takes the brighter sounds of the trumpet and blends them with the mellow sounds of the flugelhorn.
“The outcome,” she explains, “is in the middle with a pretty tone.”
The flumpet was custom made by Andy Taylor of London and definitely grabs attention with its vibrant color, beads, and Shakespeare quote.
“One time I brought the flumpet to school to explain the hybrid and I asked if anyone knew what it was,” Bradley recalls. “One fourth grader raised her hand and said, ‘I do, and it’s a cross between a trumpet and a flamingo!’”