Percussion instructor to be featured on upcoming album


Brynn Lundy/The Lion's Roar

Phill Fest (right) rehearses with the University Jazz Ensemble on March 8, the day before their first concert of the semester, as jazz studies instructor Michael Brothers directs. Fest joined the ensemble as a guest artist for the concert. Brothers is featured on drums on Fest’s upcoming album “Cafe Fon Fon.”

A member of the music faculty is featured on the upcoming album of jazz guitarist and vocalist Phill Fest.

Michael Brothers, director of jazz and percussion studies, plays the drums on Fest’s fifth album “Cafe Fon Fon,” set to be released mid-April. Fest, son of Brazilian piano legend Manfredo Fest, joined the University Jazz Ensemble for their first concert of the semester last week as a guest artist.

The percussion instructor said he met Fest around 2014 while doing shows at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre in Florida, Fest’s home state. In Dec. 2019, Fest reached out to Brothers when he was back in South Florida to invite him to join in on the album’s production. 

He said, “I was working on another project down there, and while I was going to be down there, Phill asked if I had time to stick around for a couple of extra days, that he was laying out the project for his new album and would I have time to do the recording sessions for him. I said of course.” 

According to Brothers, Fest had never produced a Brazilian-centric album despite his family’s Brazilian musical background. Fest described how that has influenced the creation of this upcoming album.

Fest said, “It’s inspired by all the infectious rhythms and melodies that are inherent to Brazilian music and, of course, some American jazz as well. I couldn’t really give one particular artist in general because I’ve been doing this for a while and I just feel like it’s my own version of it.”

Fest commended Brothers’ skills as a drummer, a primary reason he offered him the invitation to record for his album.

The colorful cover of musician Phill Fest’s upcoming album “Cafe Fon Fon.” The title is a tribute to a jazz club in Porto Alegre, Brazil at which Fest has played several times over the last five years. (Courtesy of Phill Fest)

“The timing was right, and we struck up a friendship. He had invested knowledge and interest in the Brazilian genre, the type of music that I was recording, so it just made sense,” Fest said.

On a similar note, Brothers said one of the reasons he accepted the offer was because of his appreciation for Fest’s skills as a guitarist. Brothers was also honored to have the chance to work with music written and recorded by Fest’s father. 

“I enjoy working with him, not only on a musical level but on a personal level. And also that this particular album is going to be a Brazilian-centric album. Especially, the big attraction to me was a couple of the tunes were tunes that were written by his father,” Brothers said.

Fest said the album’s title is inspired by the name of a jazz club in Porto Alegre, Brazil, at which he has played many times over the past five years.  

He said, “I’ve become good friends with the people that own the place and a lot of great things happened there for me, so it’s kind of paying a little tribute to them.”

Junior Chasidy Miller, a music major with a concentration in jazz studies, described Brothers as a one-of-a-kind teacher and said her experience as his student has been rewarding. She said he always encourages his students to go out and make connections.

She said, “The fact that he’s being featured on Mr. Phil Fest’s album is not at all a surprise. He is so deserving to have been given that opportunity. He is already a wonderful teacher and instructor and so it is so cool to see him flourish in his gifts and talents. To say I’m proud to know him is a definite understatement.”