• 7/6/22 ~ Big Brooklyn

    Melody Dornfeld began classical music studies at a young age, studying with Dr. Ramon Kireilis, principal clarinetist of the Colorado Springs Symphony Orchestra, and later the esteemed and highly-recorded Andrew Marriner, principal clarinetist of the London Symphony Orchestra and of The Academy of St. Martin in the Field. She graduated from the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music, where she first met Willie, as the University of Denver’s Most Outstanding Senior in Performance. While classical studies expanded and enhanced her technical skills, Melody yearned for another level of freedom of expression and creativity. She began studying jazz improvisation and later attended a klezmer performance which made a soul-connection. She designed a “Partners In Scholarship” research project titled “The Art of Klezmer Music” where she travelled internationally, attended camps, and studied with internationally renowned klezmer and jazz clarinetist, David Krakauer.

    Starting off with being glued to the radio and making some sweet mix tapes, music has always been a magnet for Willie Dornfeld. In early years he studied with Ric Hadad, an active performer and teacher around New England, and spent countless hours of time in deep connection practicing, performing, and venturing through rock, blues, and funk with some his favorite Branford buddies. While resonating with rock and blues, he was also growing in his love of and skills in jazz. Earning his Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies Performance from the University of Denver, Willie studied with Denver greats Mike Marlier, Paul Romaine, and Colorado Symphony principal percussionist, John Kinzie. Willie’s passion for music has continued to thrive over the years with regular live performances, composition, and continual pursuit of the art.

    Big Brooklyn is named after a cliff on an inactive granite quarry in Branford where Willie and his friends spent many hours swimming while growing up. The band began to take shape as Willie and Melody were joined by other fantastic musicians. Tenor sax player Luke Soasey is a passionate and virtuosic musician, well-versed in jazz and more. An outstanding improviser, Luke studied with many teachers, including Bob Mover and Stefon Harris, among others. Aaron Summerfield is a masterful guitarist, comfortable in any genre, from playing a sweet ballad to soloing in free and chaotic sections, and able to play passionately while instantly technically navigating the simple and the complex. Aaron earned his Masters of Music degree at the University of Denver where he was the jazz department’s “Outstanding Graduate Student.” Aaron is a full-time active performer, composer, and college music educator in Denver, Colorado. An accomplished bass player, Jo Asker, earned his Master of Music in double bass performance from Colorado State University and performs widely in the classical, rock, and jazz worlds.

    “We are thrilled to be able to be a part of the 2023 Branford Jazz Series! It is a fantastic event that brings together amazing music, creativity, and most importantly an incredible community. We have been interested in doing this for a long time and are really excited to be a part of the jazz series this summer. Being from Branford, there are so many influences that play closely into the fabric of my family and I ‘s lives, which makes it all the more meaningful to share music we love in a place that we love. Growing up in Branford has shaped me both musically and in so many other ways. Whether the amazing friends, family, musical experiences, shoreline, or community, Branford rocks! It is a special place and we can’t wait to share our music together,” said Dornfeld.

    Fasten your seatbelts and enjoy!