Bradley Joseph

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Bradley Joseph
Bird Island
Nationality United States of America
Genres rock music · new age music
Instruments organ · piano

Bradley Joseph
Background information
Born1965 (age 56–57)
Bird Island, Minnesota, United States
OriginWillmar, Minnesota, United States
  • Composer
  • arranger
  • record producer
  • musician
  • Piano
  • keyboards
  • saxophone
  • trombone
  • guitar
Years active1983–present
WebsiteOfficial Website

Bradley Joseph (born 1965) is an American composer, arranger, and producer of contemporary instrumental music. His compositions include works for orchestra, quartet, and solo piano, while his musical style ranges from "quietly pensive mood music to a rich orchestration of classical depth and breadth". He has produced numerous CDs/DVDs and piano books. His music is included in multiple various-artist compilation albums including the 2008 release of The Weather Channel Presents: Smooth Jazz II.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Early years[edit | edit source]

Bradley Joseph was born in Bird Island, Minnesota and raised in Willmar, Minnesota, and is "stunning, both in its execution and how radical a change it is from what has come before".

Christmas Around the World and Classic Christmas[edit | edit source]

Debbage depicts "A Minnesota Snowfall" from Christmas Around the World as taking "a more naked, bare-boned ballad approach". While discussing Classic Christmas, Gerry Grzyb, chairman of the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh sociology department, states that Joseph's usual approach is to play the carol straight, and then add his own twists. "... he's very effective at that—he doesn't stray as far as a jazz or classical organ improviser might, but he does keep the interest up." Grzyb says that the same applies to Joseph's earlier Christmas Around the World CD, which he found even more interesting because of the use of other instrumental sounds.

Suites & Sweets[edit | edit source]

Joseph has also produced numerous CDs that include cover arrangements for piano and orchestra. The 2009 release of Suites & Sweets features compositions by Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, and other classical composers. Joseph told Fredericksen that he, "took the best parts and movements out of those classical songs … and made it soft and calm all the way through."

Paint the Sky[edit | edit source]

After requests from listeners for Joseph to do another CD with original compositions that incorporate lush orchestration along with the piano, similar to Hear The Masses and Rapture, Joseph released Paint the Sky in April 2013. It is self-described as "piano instrumentals with a cinematic feel". John P. Olsen of New Age Music World writes that "Paint The Sky best expressed by the near even number of songs with upbeat melodies and lively rhythms, with the balance centered by a light, casual relaxed atmosphere...with importance given to melodic rhythm and phrasing." In another review of Paint the Sky, Bill Binkelman of Wind and Wire says that "Joseph is one of the very best artists when it comes to crafting piano instrumentals augmented by the spot-on application of an assortment of keyboard embellishments, from standard orchestral accompaniment to more textural/new age elements". Kathy Parsons of MainlyPiano states "The thirteen pieces ...range from tender to majestic. Several pieces are solo piano and others are orchestrated with keyboards to give a vibrant, cinematic effect."

About this album, Binkelman describes the song "Inside the Stars" as "an uptempo, joyous lead piano melody accented by bouncy rhythms played on kit drums, thumping bass, and tambourine plus superlative orchestral strings". Michael Debagge of MainlyPiano states that "the optimism of this album is felt immediately courtesy of the buoyancy of 'Inside The Stars', filled with Joseph's nifty piano work more in the vein of Bruce Hornsby, then layered in strings and percussion work".

In an in-depth analysis of the composition "In Dreams Awake", Binkelman opines that this song bears a strong contemporary classical influence and that some people might even hear strains of Philip Glass' music. He says there is an exultant feel to the melody, but because Joseph maintains absolute control of nuance and shading the song never descends into overblown melodrama or bombast. As the track progresses, the mood and style shifts into a more identifiable new age motif, with more textural synths, bell tones and bell trees, and a more pronounced sweeping sensation of subdued grandeur. The Glass-like motif returns for the song's finale. Parsons characterizes this same song as "a concept piece that begins with an intense and intriguing theme for cello or viola and strings. Building as it evolves, it never takes a breath until near the end of the theme. From there, the piece becomes dreamy and ambient, "floating effortlessly" on keyboard sounds until the original strings re-enter, increasing to the intensity of the first theme". At the same time, Debbage notes "...the multi-movements found on the challenging 'In Dreams Awake'..." and says that it "...opens with an extended piece of strings that almost appear to be battling against each other, only to move into a beautiful dreamy midsection to once again return to the more chaotic strings, much like our nonsensical dreams".

Binkleman goes on to say that the song "Into the Big Blue" should instantly call Aaron Copland to mind – it has the same BIG orchestral/cinematic sound to it, along with Copland-esque western rhythm and melodic motifs. Similarly, Debbage states that this song brings to mind the musical opening theme of that old western television show The Big Valley.

In reference to the song "Secrets of the Sun", Binkelman describes "lush strings and gorgeous new age synths with the piano melody here brimming with a blend of the ethereal and the romantic with a dash of wistfulness besides". The synth sounds remind him a little of Ray Lynch. Parsons details this as "much calmer and more graceful with a piano melody and keyboard enhancements". Debbage writes that "the remainder of the album is filled with Joseph's uncanny ability to compose elegant and emotive ballads. Back track to 'Secrets Of The Sun' that gently sways in the piano and string arrangements with similar results found on 'The Edge Of My Heart'.

Genres and radio formats[edit | edit source]

Generally, Joseph's music gets airplay in the adult contemporary, smooth jazz, easy listening, and beautiful music radio formats, and while some is classified in the new age genre, he considers contemporary instrumental to fit his style of playing the best. In discussing Rapture, John Blake of The Atlanta Journal notes that often new age music sounds as if it should be played in a supermarket. The songs can sound like musical cotton candy — soft, airy and ultimately uninteresting. "For the most part, Bradley's music doesn't make that mistake." "The music is cinematic, filled with introspective piano solos, swelling violins, and a hypnotic song pacing that allows the listener to daydream." Along the same line, Michael Debbage of Mainly Piano says that Rapture almost single-handedly gave a sense of hope that there was much more that the New Age genre could offer. Cicily Janus remarks that, "Although Bradley has been, at times, pigeon holed into an offshoot of jazz, his message through his music is universal in its appeal and soothing qualities."

Discography[edit | edit source]

Studio albums[edit | edit source]

Credits[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]