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Geof Bradfield was born in Houston, TX, to a musical family. His father and uncle played classical flute and piano at family gatherings, and his mother and stepfather, both amateur musicians, introduced him to jazz and R&B through a vinyl collection that ranged from Art Tatum and Miles Davis to Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway. As a student first at the renowned High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston and later at DePaul University and Cal Arts, he refined and developed this foundation. After intervals in New York and Washington, Bradfield settled in Chicago in 2004. He has been fortunate to work alongside many jazz luminaries and to perform throughout the United States and Europe. He has also toured Russia, Africa and the Middle East with Jazz at Lincoln Center’s The Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad.
Bradfield is featured on numerous recordings, including his own critically acclaimed CDs African Flowers, named one of the top 10 CDs of 2010 by the Los Angeles Times, and Melba!, selected as one of the best CDs of 2013 by DownBeat Magazine. As a composer, Bradfield has received commissions from Chamber Music America and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and grants and fellowships from DCASE, the Illinois Arts Council, the Black Metropolis Research Consortium and the Andrew Mellon Foundation. Bradfield is also a committed educator; he is currently Associate Professor of Jazz Saxophone at Northern Illinois University.
Bradfield’s new quintet project, Our Roots, takes its name and inspiration from Chicago saxophonist Clifford Jordan’s 1965 Atlantic record, These Are My Roots: the Music of Lead Belly. The focus is on Black music of the rural south: the spirituals and blues of itinerant Texas preacher Blind Willie Johnson, ring shouts from the Georgia Sea Islands, and the prison farm work songs of Lead Belly. The absence of a chordal instrument allows the ensemble to explore the open-ended nature of these folk forms. Bradfield is joined on Our Roots (Origin Records) by four of the premier musicians on the contemporary Chicago scene: trumpeter Marquis Hill, trombonist Joel Adams, bassist Clark Sommers and drummer Dana Hall.