Saturday, January 30, 2016

Sonny Red

Anders Svanoe published research of Sonny Red in The Annual Review of Jazz Studies in 2007. Like Sonny, Joe's family moved to Detroit from the south. Anders conducted many interviews with Detroit musicians. Below are mentions of Joe Brazil from Anders' research.

"I remember seeing Red a few times down at Joe Brazil's. I first started to play drums by going down to Joe Brazil's. The way I got there was Doug Watkins, the bass player, pulled me over there since Doug and I went to the same high school. Anyway, he was telling me to go sit  in, and I told him that I wasn't ready yet. But he told me to come on  by there anyway. So I went there and sat in with Barry on piano, Joe Brazil [on alto saxophone], Donald Byrd [on trumpet], and Doug Watkins on bass. They played a tempo, extremely fast, and somehow or another I kept that tempo, and that's what opened the door for me. They said that the next time they were going to give me a call, and they did." - Frank Gant

"Joe Brazil was important on the scene and a good friend of Coltrane's. That was perfect for Trane. This was a place, just free to him, to play as long as he wanted to." - Tommy Flanagan

"I remember one session that we did at Joe Brazil's place. We did a lot of jam sessions down there. Sonny was there and sometimes Barry, Ko-Ko [Kenneth "Cokie" Winfrey], the tenor player, used to live down at Joe's place, so he'd always be there for the sessions. That was around 1955 or 1956. I lived right down the street, so I was there a lot." - Kiane Zawadi

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Joe Brazil's Possessions

Joe and Frances married on March 24, 1963 but separated during the 1980's. According to King County Property Tax records, Joe gave the house to Frances on Valentine's Day, February 14, 1985 in a settlement. Joe took all of his possessions except for the baby grand piano that he had moved from Detroit. They were officially divorced on September 24, 2002.

Joe married Virginia on Valentine's Day, February 14, 2003. They had first met in the 1970's when Joe was teaching inmates at the Black Academy of Music and Virginia was a social worker working with prisoners.

Virginia was the person who took Joe to the hospital when, on his birthday, he had his first heart attack in 2001. Joe died in the living room of her home in 2008. In addition to inheriting all of his papers, records, recordings, equipment, and musical instruments, she also inherited his debts. Virginia was the person who organized his home going celebration.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Bluebird Music Alumni

I found Joe listed as a Bluebird Music Alumni in the second Bluebird Reunion booklet. 

Joe at the Bluebird Reunion

I found a picture of Joe in the Bluebird Reunion booklet from 1995. In the picture is drummer Bert Myrick who often played with Joe in the 1950s.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Adventurous Programming Award

Chamber Music America and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers have for the second time selected the Steve Griggs Ensemble for an Adventurous Programming Award. This honor recognizes the ensemble's programs that blend history and original music to recognize important but often overlooked stories in Seattle (A Cup of Joe Brazil, Panama Hotel Jazz, Listen to Seattle, and Sound in Stone). The award will be presented at the CMA conference in New York City on January 10.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Jubilee for Joe Brazil at Boxley's

Boxley's in North Bend will be hosting a Jubilee for Joe Brazil in commemoration of Joe's passing on August 6, 2008. Come listen to saxophonist Steve Griggs, guitarist Milo Petersen, bassist Chuck Kistler, and drummer Greg Williamson on August 7 at Boxley's, 101 W North Bend Way, North Bend, WA 98045.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Stokely Carmichael

Yesterday I listened to a 1967 tape of Stokely Carmichael addressing a full gymnasium of supporters at Garfield High School in Seattle. The transcript can be found at The tape is part of the Joe Brazil Collection. Stokely also spoke to 3,000 people at the University of Washington. Stokely talks about Beethoven being black. Joe said the same thing a few years later at Whitman College.
Seattle P-I photo

Maupin Meets Coltrane at Brazil's House

Detroit saxophonist Bennie Maupin talks about meeting John Coltrane at Joe Brazil's house. (Thanks to Chris Devito for sharing this information)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Detroit House Today

This is Joe Brazil's house in Detroit. His neighbor told me that the musicians would enter and exit from the door on the side that led into the basement. There used to be a fence that obscured the doorway. One New Year's Eve, several folks fired guns in the back yard. The vinyl siding is missing now because a woman in the neighborhood is stealing it.

Joe said in an interview that bassist Paul Chambers lived here with him. I wonder if Paul Chambers introduced Joe to John Coltrane when Paul and John were visiting Detroit in Miles Davis' band.

In the last few years Joe lived in Detroit, he shared the house with bassist Ali Jackson.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Program from Homegoing Celebration

"As the Music Historian he would wish for us all to study our history, listen to music and to support local musicians." - Virginia Brazil

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Thad Jones and Joe Brazil

A tape in the Joe Brazil collection labeled "Thad Jones at the West End" contains an announcer saying, "How about a hand for Thad. Thank you, Freddie Froo. Freddie Froo on the drums, Joe Brazil on the alto, Ernie Farrow on the bass and Abe Woodley on the piano."

According to an article at, Freddie Froo was a nickname for Detroit drummer Fred Metcalf. Baritone saxophonist Pepper Adams wrote a song for him.

Abe Woodley also worked in a band called the Jazztet with Joe Brazil.

According to Before Motown, the West End Hotel was a popular Detroit location for weekend after hours jam sessions in the late 1950s.

Thanks to the owner of the Joe Brazil tape collection for allowing me access to this rich trove of historical information.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Gems from Joe Brazil's tapes

I have been able to preview several tapes in the Joe Brazil tape collection. Joe captured some rare historic moments in jazz. I hope to share more specifics in the near future.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Performance at Jack Straw

Grateful for the attentive audience and passionate performance at Jack Straw on January 14. It is a joy to share the story of Joe Brazil with people unfamiliar with his life. Jay Thomas, pictured here on trumpet, played his first jam session with Joe. Susan Pascal, vibraphonist out of the frame to the right, is married to Dave Pascal, who worked in a band with Joe. In the audience was a student from one of Joe's History of Jazz classes. Stories of musicians are a backbone of the jazz tradition. Blending new music and old stories is at the heart of my artistic practice. Thanks to Jack Straw for supporting this project through discounted studio time.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Detroit Residences

A search through city directories in the Detroit Public Library yielded the following information about places where Joe Brazil and his relatives lived.

Hilliard (Ida) Brazil Laborer h 1020 Illinois
with Louis Steinberg
Mrs. Gertrude Williams
Louis Williams
Richard Collins

Hilliard Brazil Laborer R 13526 Lumpkin Ave (H)

Hilliard Brazil Autoworker h 2289 Maple

Harrison Hill Laborer R 984 E Vernor Hwy Apt 17

Harrison (Queen V) Hill h 1427 St. Joseph
Harrison Hill Driver City Garbage Plant r 3137 Brush Apt 10

Hilliard Brazil Laborer r  12903 Riopelle
With Moses Brazil
James Warsaw

Mrs. Ida Brazil h 1034 Theodore
With Fred L Dodson
Samuel Hollis

Hilliard Brazil Laborer h 1014 Hendrie Ave Apt 11 (Seeman Ct. Apts)
Mrs. Ida Brazil Domestic h 1008 Benton

Hilliard Brazil Laborer h 1014 Hendrie Ave Apt 11
Mrs. Ida Brazil Maid h 5941 Rivard
With John Stokes
Ben Anthony

Hilliard Brazil Laborer h 1014 Hendrie Ave Apt 11
Mrs. Ida Brazil Maid h 5941 Rivard
With John Stokes
Ben Anthony
Stanford Cooper
Hilliard Brazil Laborer h 1014 Hendrie Ave Apt 11
Mrs. Ida Brazil Maid h 5941 Rivard
With John Stokes
Ben Anthony
Stanford Cooper

Mrs. Ida Brazil Maid h 5941 Rivard
With Henry Peoples
Ben Anthony
Stanford Cooper

Mrs. Ida Brazil (widow Hilliard) h 5941 Rivard
With Roosevelt Muller
Ben Anthony
Stanford Cooper

Joseph Brazil 15763 Woodingham

Hilliard Brazil 536 Holbrook

Hilliard Brazil 536 Holbrook

Hilliard Brazil 536 Holbrook

Hilliard Brazil 536 Holbrook
Ida Brazil 17846 Fleming

Hilliard Brazil 536 Holbrook
Ida Brazil 17846 Fleming

Hilliard Brazil 536 Holbrook
Joseph Brazil 17846 Fleming

Hilliard Brazil 536 Holbrook
Joseph Brazil 17846 Fleming
Zodis Brazil (Rosalin J) Coremaker Ford h 2452 S. Deacon Ave
Hilliard Brazil 5125 Helen

Joseph Brazil Laborer Chrysler h 17846 Fleming Ave
With Ali Jackson

Zodis Brazil (Rosalin J) Coremaker Ford h 2452 S. Deacon Ave

Joseph Brazil Laborer Chrysler h 17846 Fleming Ave
With Ali Jackson

17846 Fleming Ave (vacant)

17846 Fleming Ave (Elliot Nichols)