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The Brotherly Love Benefit Concert for Jeff Bradshaw @ The TLA, featuring Jill Scott, Bilal and More.

January 24, 2017

img_7675Text by Morgan James. Images by James Younge.

In the city of Philadelphia, Friday January 20th signaled a different kind of celebration.

On that day friends, fans, family, and the like congregated at the TLA to honor North Philly native and one of the most sought after jazz trombonists, Jeff Bradshaw.

Bradshaw has worked alongside musical giants such as Jill Scott, Jay Z, Erykah Badu, Kirk Franklin, The Roots, Trombone Shorty and Marsha Ambrosius, to list a few.  He’s been sharing his music for more than 25 years, but this past year he announced his battle with acute diverticulitis. After learning of his illness, his friend and peer Jill Scott led the charge to organize Friday’s benefit concert to assist with Bradshaw’s increasing financial medical needs, and to raise awareness about the disease.

But to regard Friday evening as solely a benefit concert doesn’t quite satisfy the mood of the night. The Brotherly Love Benefit Concert for Jeff Bradshaw was less showcase and more an unparalleled outpouring of love and support for the beloved musician.

Patti Jackson of WDAS opened the show. For those familiar with summer nights at ‘The Dell,’ Jackson’s presence harkened to a familiarity most of the crowd associates with a soulful good time. Also, fun fact – Dell attendees are partial to their creature comforts, and the organizers didn’t disappoint – there were rows of seats at The TLA, who knew!

Singer, songwriter and producer Eric Roberson acted as master of ceremonies – a role that comes naturally to the risible showman. At one point between sets, he crowdsourced lyrics for an improvisational song. Select concertgoers eagerly suggested “beautiful,” “Obama,” “fulfill,” “skillful,” and wait for it, “alpha male,” to which Roberson crooned out a 64-bar banger, replete with a verse, chorus and a bridge to boot.

Jean Baylor of 90s duo Zhané kicked off the performances, followed by violinist Chelsey Green of The Green Project, R&B songstress Algebra Blessett, Grammy Award-winning saxophonist Najee, Philly’s very own neosoul rockstar Bilal, as well as Kenny Lattimore, Raheem Devaughn, Maysa and Robert Glasper.

Glasper brought out Treena Ferebee and Bilal during his set, to which Bradshaw, percussionist/producer CJ Branch, Jill Scott, and Kindred the Family Soul could all be seen and heard sidestage praising and shouting “Hallelujah!” It was this type of function, an unabashed family affair.

Throughout the night, as Roberson introduced act after act, an audience member could be overheard referencing each one as a “living legend” in an awe-inspired hushed tone.

The audience could barely contain themselves when DJ Kool made a surprise appearance and rocked the place with his smash hit “Let Me Clear My Throat,” which holds a special place in the heart of Philadelphians. Not skipping a beat, the band begin to play gogo classic “Da Butt,” when Sugar Bear of D.C.’s E.U. emerged unexpectedly to perform his song to an utterly ecstatic and jamming crowd.

Feeling the energy and love in the room, the husband and wife duo from Philadelphia, Kindred The Family Soul, hopped on stage to express their “brotherly love and sisterly affection” for Jeff Bradshaw by singing their hit “Far Away.”

Peppered throughout the night, Bradshaw was celebrated by the extended civic, music, and entertainment community, receiving an official honor from Councilman At-Large Derek Green on behalf of the Philadelphia City Council, in addition to a show of support from WRNB’s Dyana Williams on behalf of the Philadelphia Chapter of The Recording Academy, and from Fox 29’s Alex Holley of “Good Day Philadelphia” and Quincy Harris of “The Q.”

However no one could have moved the crowd, nor Jeff Bradshaw himself, quite like Miss Jill Scott. Scott sauntered on stage with what appeared to be brown liquor in the classiest of wine glasses and proceeded to give the room exactly what it craved – a cathartic moment for Bradshaw, for Philly. If you’ve never seen Scott perform, it’s, well, it’s magic. She’s theatre. Drama in the purest form. She seduces all within reach.

And she spoke so very highly of Bradshaw, who could be seen holding back tears when he walked on stage to embrace her. She also spoke highly of her city.

“Something about that Schuylkill  punch makes our musicians great,” she said.“Like Bilal, Roots, Jasmine, Kindred!”

When Bradshaw addressed the crowd at length, he was visibly overcome with emotion.

“God is good,” he said. He informed those in attendance of his condition and the importance of healthy eating habits, something he formerly took for granted. “We need to eat better, take care of ourselves and eat plant-based foods.”

Bradshaw said he was appreciative and his heart was full. He said that he was blessed to have friends like the ones he has, even gratefully acknowledging Kenny Lattimore as “a praying man.”

He ended his remarks by bringing up a phone conversation he had previously with Jill Scott during the planning stages of the event.

“Jill said on the phone to me, ‘This is something we need to do more of,’” he recalled.

Every artist on stage seemed to agree.

For those who wish to help Bradshaw on his journey to revitalized health, visit his GoFundMe page here.

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