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)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

From the Detroit Musicians Union

Joe Brazil first joined the Detroit Federation of Musicians, Local 5, on August 17, 1955. There must have been a few time lapses, because there is an additional application dated December 23, 1959, and a reinstatement memo dated March 1, 1961. He was expelled on March 31, 1964. He listed his instruments as alto and tenor saxophone, and piano (although I believe he also played flute on occasion). He was also a tool maker (he stated it was a union job, but didn't state which union).

Thursday, October 23, 2014

BAM Shirt

Wadie Earvin shared a photo of his tee shirt from the Black Academy of Music.

Friday, September 19, 2014

BlackPast Post

Quintard Taylor has asked me to post an article about Joe Brazil on I am very honored to contribute to this online encyclopedia of African American history. I hope to finish this article in the coming weeks.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Draft Narrative for "A Cup of Joe Brazil"

By Steve Griggs
© 2014

We live in a city where a mysterious part of jazz was created. And part of that mystery is a Detroit-born saxophonist named Joseph Brazil.

[Play “Joseph Brazil”]

Does anyone here remember Joe Brazil? What do you remember about him?
He was a jazz saxophonist. He taught at the University of Washington and founded the Black Academy of Music. He grew up in Detroit.
I never had the pleasure of meeting him before he passed in 2008. Even though he is not here physically, I invite his spirit to join us here today. He continues to teach me about music, society, and myself.
He is not the first dead musician to mentor me. First, was John Coltrane. He died in 1967, when I was seven. About 11 years later, I heard his music on records and was entranced. The song that first got me was “Village Blues.”

[Band plays Village Blues quietly]

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

New Program of Music and Narration About Joe Brazil to Premier August 10

"Cup of Joe Brazil" will premier at the Central Branch of the Seattle Public Library 2pm August 10. Based on archival research, oral histories, and personal reflection about Joe Brazil, I have created a new program of music and narration. The performances are supported by a Residency Partnership Grant from Chamber Music America. There will be 4 additional performances of this program at other Seattle Public Library branches.