Hailey Brinnel: Beautiful Tomorrow

Philly-based trombonist and singer gives spirited renditions of originals and standards including Donald Fagen's Walk Between Raindrops


Danger lurks around every corner for any musician who records an album of swing-era standards in 2023. Sugary vocals can quickly strangle hopes of success. Cheesy or corny arrangements can kick up an overpowering stink. The 20-something singer and trombonist Hailey Brinnel confronts this peril with brawn and bared teeth. It’s muscular music. So watch out.

Beautiful Tomorrow presents two original tracks and eight arrangements of standards. Brinnel is joined by her battle-hardened quartet of Silas Irvine on piano, Joe Plowman on bass and Dan Monaghan on drums. Three guests join the fight. Together, they land some hefty haymakers.

I Might Be Evil is the first Brinnel composition on the record – and features a swing cymbal beat, walking bassline and 12-bar blues structure. Against that time-worn backdrop, Brinnel offers a hip-bumping and coquettish vocal that suggests jagged teeth behind lipstick and sharp claws beneath nail varnish. Her spacious trombone solo strikes the right notes, rather than the most notes.

Terell Stafford, Brinnel’s bandleader during her studies at Temple University, adds his trumpet for Tea For Two. The prof unleashes a red-hot barrage for his solo. The teacher’s pet hurls scatted improvisations at the microphone, trading two-bar bursts with the drummer. Candy is another highlight, stripped down to vocal and bass. The ballad A Cottage For Sale is a perfect, gorgeous gut-punch.

The arrangements of old tunes feel fresh and energetic on Beautiful Tomorrow. Brinnel has a rich caramel voice with something rough and stony below the surface, and her trombone is patient but powerful. It’s a bold move to release a collection of old-school classics, but this is a fearless record. Watch out for Hailey Brinnel. She’s tough enough to swing in 2023 and beyond.

There’s A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow; I Might Be Evil; The Sound; Walk Between Raindrops; Tea For Two; Wayfaring Stranger; A Cottage For Sale; There Will Never Be; I Want To Be Happy; Candy (39.28)
Brinnel (tb, v); Andrew Carson, Terell Stafford (t); Chris Oatts (ss, as); Silas Irvine (p); Joe Plowman (b); Dan Monaghan (d). Philadelphia, USA, 2023.
Outside in Music OiM2310