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Comin' On by Bobby Bradford - John Carter Quintet

Clarinetist John Carter and trumpeter/cornetist Bobby Bradford aligned forces in 1965 and eventually helped flip the West Coast USA jazz scene on its side, although widespread recognition was fleeting. Bradford still remains a vital exponent of progressive-jazz amid numerous session dates and co-led efforts for various record labels. Carter passed away in1991 and released several landmark recordings for Swiss-based Hat Hut Records, Gramavision and others. He wowed the critics via his Folklore: Episodes in the Development of American Folk Music series (1982-1990), providing a visionary musical account of America's roots, owing to the blues and African-American culture. Otherwise, this reissue recorded live at a Catalina, CA., venue in 1988, presents advanced concepts, featuring an all-star support structure.

With Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention alumni and eminent West Coast jazz keyboardist Don Preston using a synthesizer for off-center treatments and hues in choice spots, the band's buoyant movements enamored by the superb audio re-mastering seeds a resonating presence. Bradford and Carter's ringing unison choruses atop bop-ish grooves, proclaim an irrefutably fertile schema that doesn't lean towards the avant-garde spectrum but not hardcore bop either. Hence, the ensemble brings an idiosyncratic methodology to the forefront because they translucently meld conventional modern jazz with an outsider's viewpoint.

The soloists' brilliant improvisational motifs are keenly balanced with structure and free-flight. Forceful but limber, Carter's lighter-then-air phrasings profess grace and power, synchronized with Bradford's cunning and fluently articulated storylines. In a sense, this band was a game-changer. They abide by a take no prisoners approach, although there are sublime passages marked by wit and whimsy. Moreover, the artists often throttle the energy-level and pitch, incited by the rhythm section's thrusting pulses.

On "Ode to the Flower Maiden," Carter opens with lush phrasings, enveloped within Preston's warm synths, where the band exercises a flourishing ballad, shaded with moments of solitude. At various intervals throughout the undulating parts, the frontline forges ahead with subtly soaring notes and melancholic exchanges, culminated through lower and upper-registers. In other regions of sound, they toss in a few nods to Ornette Coleman, as well. Ultimately, the musicians impart a spiritual reckoning through the looking glass of art, topped off by a positive sense of being. Indeed, an important reissue that snugly fits into cutting-edge territory.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Bobby Bradford - John Cartet Quintet
  • CD Title: Comin' On
  • Genre: Various Jazz Styles
  • Year Released: 2011
  • Reissue Original Release: 1988
  • Record Label: hatOLOGY
  • Tracks: Comin' On; Ode to the Flower Maiden; Encounter; Sunday Afternoon Jazz Society Blues; Room 408.
  • Musicians: Bobby Bradford; cornet; John Carter: clarinet; Don Preston: piano, synthesizer; Richard Davis: bass; Andrew Cyrille: drums.
  • Rating: Five Stars
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