Kofi Burbridge

Seventeen years ago, Kofi Burbridge moved to Atlanta to record an album. He's still waiting to finish it, but he hasn't exactly been sitting around. Kofi is that rarest of musicians - the combination virtuoso keyboard player/flautist. If he hasn't always known where he was headed, the path is his own, and he has traveled it his way.

The journey started in the Bronx, NY, where Kofi was born on September 22, 1961 to William and Carol Burbridge. They moved to Washington, DC two years later, and Oteil Burbridge was born there in 1964. Sisters Leilani and Adero followed in 1968 and 1971.

The boys made their musical talents obvious from an early age - Kofi's perfect pitch was discovered when he was six, and he began taking flute lessons. Meanwhile, Oteil held down the bottom end.

“He was 3, 4 years old, he was pulling off some funk rhythms,” says Kofi. Before Oteil graduated to a standard drum set, his instrument of choice was a Quaker Oats box. The musical talent wasn't inherited - Kofi calls their father “one of those cats with no rhythm” - but the brothers did pick up on William's love of music.

Long before they were anchoring the jam scene, the Burbridges were musical partners in that house. They ran through enough instruments to be their own orchestra.

“Oteil and I had been shuffling instruments back and forth,” Kofi says. “It was drums and flute, then bass and keyboards, and every once in a while we'd go through our orchestral thing. He's played bass clarinet, he's played violin, he's played trumpet. I've never played reeds, but we've both played piano, this, that - we really owe it to our parents.” The Burbridges' talents extend outside the musical realm. Oteil was the host of a local television show, and Kofi worked the stage.

Read more

Photos (2)


Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.