For the past several years bassist and saxophonist Eric Worthy has been one of the most active jam session players in town. Aside from using jam sessions to “practice and play around with things I’m working on that would be too risky for a ‘real’ performance,” as Worthy expresses it, jam sessions have also been a valuable tool for him to meet future band mates.
Long before the Covid pandemic hit, he connected with guitarist Steve Caballero and drummer Chuck Karner at jam sessions at the now-defunct Liam Flynn’s bar on North Avenue. “We became instant friends,” says Worthy, “and if you’re playing with us, you’re a brother.” The ‘us’ Worthy refers to is The Worthy Brothers Band, in which his brother Zach Worthy is a mainstay on piano and their brother Aaron Worthy, based in Hagerstown, joins them occasionally on sax. Caballero and Karner became regulars in The Worthy Brothers. Among other venues, they have performed at Germano’s, An die Musik, Trinacria Café (later Unity Bar) and, on behalf of BJA, at the dedication of a new mural in Little Italy.
Recently, Eric Worthy encountered flutist Andrea Brachfeld at the Terra Café jam session. “I really connected deeply to her playing, and she said she was open to playing together,” says Worthy. Brachfeld had moved to Baltimore recently from New York to be near her new grandson. Little did he know it at the time, but Brachfeld, as Worthy later learned, is an internationally renowned performer, composer, and band leader. She graduated from Manhattan School of Music; opened in Venezuela for Gary Burton, Paco Lucia and Chick Corea; and has released eight CDs and performed at the Havana Jazz Festival. Among her band mates have been Wallace Roney, Wycliffe Gordon, Hilton Ruiz, Steve Turre, Brian Lynch, Mike Longo and Lincoln Goines.
The Worthy Brothers (with Frank Russo on drums) will perform with Andrea Brachfeld at An die Musik on Friday, February 18. “I always try hard to have a theme for our concerts,” says Worthy. Since his mother passed in September 2021, his son Xavier was born in January 2022, and Andrea Brachfeld has a new grandson, Worthy’s says “our theme is changes.”
He’s even calling the band The Transformation Ensemble just for the occasion. Their concert will include several of Brachfeld’s compositions. For more information, go to andiemusiklive.com.
— Bob Jacobson
Bob Jacobson, former Vice President of the BJA, plays saxophone and clarinet and leads combos “Sounds Good” and “Swing ‘n’ Samba.” He has written numerous articles for the BJA newsletter.