May 28, 2020
By Bobbi Booker | Photo by Zamani Feelings
Trombonist, vocalist, and educator Hailey Brinnel has been steeped in music her whole life. She was born into an entertainment family and grew up traveling throughout New England with her father, singer David Brinell. At age 10, she picked up the trombone, becoming serious about it in high school.
Now 24, she has honed her chops in performing popular songs and jazz standards and has played and recorded alongside many of today’s top jazz artists, including Ken Peplowski, Jimmy Heath, Ann Hampton Callaway, Jon Faddis, Luis Bonilla, Wycliffe Gordon, René Marie, Maurice Hines, and with The DIVA Jazz Orchestra, led by Sherrie Maricle.
“I really developed my creative style and voice from a younger age and then once I got older and started playing more jazz and improvisational music on trombone, I was starting to realize that singing and trombone were kind of informing one another,” Brinnel recalls. “I was getting ideas from my singing and was taking those ideas and trying to put them on the horn. Any instrument can be challenging, but some of my really diligent vocal practicing may have come out of frustration on the trombone. That really pushed me to want to sing more.”
She decided to continue her education in Philadelphia, finding a place in the Temple University Jazz Band led by acclaimed trumpet player Terell Stafford.
“I really felt like I found a home within the Temple University Jazz Program, but then the Philadelphia jazz community as a whole,” Hailey noted. “From talking to jazz musicians that set up roots elsewhere, Philly really does have a great combination of a tight-knit community, but also a wide array of killing players that give you that community feel.”
In early 2020, she released her first single, “Easy to Love,” from the debut album of her eponymous quartet. Brinnel continues to deepen her roots in the education community in Philadelphia and is currently is on faculty at The University of the Arts, and she remains inspired by the musicians that continue to ply their craft in the region.
“The Philly jazz elder community is made up of really strong people that were either born and raised or have just been playing here for a long time and are really supportive of the younger generations, for the most part. Working at UArts—especially because pretty much all of the faculty live or work in Philly primarily—it’s really cool seeing the faculty being able to support students that are up and coming into the community.”
Hailey added, “I am not in a hurry to leave that.”
“Philly really does have a great combination of a tight-knit community, but also a wide array of killing players that give you that community feel.”