Brad Felt Remembered
Brad Felt, a premier Detroit musician for nearly four decades, died on October 6, 2011. He was 55 years of age. Brad played euphonium and tuba and composed a large number of strong jazz originals. He studied music at Oakland University, but really Brad studied music constantly, in a variety of settings, with many different musicians.
Many who knew Brad called him a "deep thinker," and he always had an interesting response on most any subject, especially if it was music related. With his dark glasses on and cigarette in hand, he was a hipster, not a faux hipster, Brad was the real deal. He decided what he wanted to do with his life and did it. Was playing his instrument more important than a long term relationship? Did he want to practice/play/write all day and not develop a "career" other than music? Yes, and yes. And that's exactly what he did.
Felt made a major contribution to Kenny Cox' "Guerilla Jam Band," and the Scott Gwinnell Orchestra, but these are only two of many ensembles Brad plugged into, and he always added something special. A recent project was his Nu Quartet, and fortunately there are examples on YouTube that show the range of expression (and creativity) Brad brought to his music. Some of his finest musical moments occurred with his longtime friend tenorist Steve Wood; their co-led quintet was a mainstay at many Montreux-Detroit jazz festivals. Their group featured many originals penned by both musicians. I hope Brad's compositions will become available to the jazz community at large.
Brad was one of the very few guys I sought out for an opinion about a local musician or group; he always knew the real deal and would steer me in the right direction. Discussions with Brad were usually stimulating, and went in unexpected directions. I would sometimes find myself pondering something said by Brad hours after. Although death is a natural progression of life, we feel sad when a friend or loved one passes. I am grateful that I knew Brad and wish only I had spent more time with him. His warmth and honesty and hip sense of humor meant a lot to me, and I know many other folks who feel the same way. I'm glad we have his wonderful music to remind us of his gifts.