Bradford / Dresser / Ferris – Live in LA (CF 241)
This disc gets more beautiful on each listen! The long-standing friendship of trumpeter/cornetist Bradford, bassist Dresser and trombonist Ferris bears striking musical fruit on this 2009 recording, which is not really a concert date at all; rather, it’s a living-room recording that nevertheless boasts all the immediacy and nuance of a club date.
The recording is superb, which is essential in order to catch every push, pull and jab in which these three veterans engage. Every detail is up close without ever clouding the dynamic spectrum. Just listen to Ferris’ first note on the ground-swelling and slow-burning blues of “Purge,” where he slides into a slow slinky vibrato that decays with gorgeous control. Bradford answers in kind, and Dresser, ever the attentive listener, chimes in with a percussive thud which explains why this trio needs no drummer. If further proof was required, his solo on the opening of “Ready to Go” should seal the deal. He punches, slides and vamps as only Bobby Bradford can, backing Ferris’ breathy exhortations with extraordinary detail, each phrase a world of invention unto itself, but from deep in the pocket. The counterpoint emergent upon Bradford’s entrance is stunning, and each player’s mature style is tempered by a sense of fun, most likely due to their enjoyment of the occasion.
Yet, it is the group interplay that ultimately makes this disc so enjoyable, as can be heard in the uplifting and frolicsome “In my Dream,” or on the slow groove of “Panda’s Run,” where Bradford and Ferris sometimes sound like one instrument, so intertwined are the lines and phrases as the two cross registers.
A thin, almost translucent layer of reverb coats the proceedings in a layer of glass, preserving and enhancing the excitement and care in every note. Far from being intrusive, it only adds to the sense of occasion as these three veterans reunite, finally documenting their multifarious experiences and shared musical journey. This is now one of my favorite releases in Clean Feed’s dauntingly extensive catalog.
Bobby Bradford/Mark Dresser/Glen Ferris – Live in LA (CF 241)
While often compared to the Ornette Coleman-Don Cherry quartets of the early ‘60s, the work of reedman John Carter (1929-91) and cornetist Bobby Bradford (1934) in Los Angeles from the late ‘60s through the mid ‘80s is anything but Coleman-esque. Chief among the reasons why and how their music differed was its chamber sensibility, fueled by sparse, moody reservation and parallelism amid multi-part arrangements. That’s not to say the Carter-Bradford Quartet wasn’t equally full of bebop energy or bluesy swagger, but those elements were approached as part of a vast aesthetic reach. At the heart of the quartet was the interplay between trumpet and woodwinds and their powerful swing didn’t necessarily require a bassist and drummer to get things done. Bradford has carried his incisive, round tone and attack to a number of extraordinary recordings in the post-Carter era, one of which is an unforgettable trio date with bassist Mark Dresser and trombonist Glenn Ferris. The program is a mixture of group improvisations and compositions by the trio’s members, though only one is a Bradford original (the oft-recorded “Comin’ On”). Ferris is probably the least well known of the group – while he’s recorded with Steve Lacy and Don Ellis, his Parisian expatriate lifestyle has kept him from being a household name. That’s too bad, because he’s one of the most fascinatingly expressive trombonists this side of Roswell Rudd and Albert Mangelsdorff. His vocal chortles, whines and guffaws are built into a measured language that displays a range of emotions, from pathos to bemusement, with a few ‘bugle flicks’. Bradford’s brawny elegance is in an almost ‘straight man’ role compared to Ferris, ebulliently swinging through even the most abstract of situations. The closing “Ready to Go” is an aptly-titled dirge composed by the trombonist, in which a stately Bill Harris-worthy hymn is declaimed atop Dresser’s low-slung pizzicato, gradually picking up the trumpeter’s sure-yet-brittle commentary. The bassist’s “For Bradford” opens the set, its theme likely drawn from fragments of the trumpeter’s compositions. Its dedicatee crackles through thick, gobbed phrases, making deep statements that are airily emphatic as he stretches, crumples and punctuates in a way that quickly unifies the group’s collectivity. Bradford is always a player to sit up and pay attention to, but Live in LA provides an especially powerful setting that should be required listening.
Bobby Bradford – Mark Dresser – Glen Ferris – Live in LA (CF 241)
Valutazione: 3.5 stelle
Bobby Bradford, uno dei miglior trombettisti emersi dal free jazz e dalle zone contigue all’avanguardia, partner di Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy, Charlie Haden, autore con il clarinettista John Carter di una manciata di dischi pregevoli, rientra a buon diritto nell’ampia schiera di unsung heroes, musicisti che hanno dato un contributo di notevole importanza all’evoluzione della musica afro-americana ma che raramente hanno ottenuto le luci della ribalta o raggiunto gli onori della cronaca. Questa registrazione del settembre 2009, effettuata a casa del trombonista Bruce Fowler, ci restituisce un Bradford smagliante, in gran forma, in compagnia di altri due ottimi musicisti come Mark Dresser e Glen Ferris. Due brani a firma Dresser, tre di Ferris, uno di Bradford e due completamente improvvisati (ma in registrazioni di questo tipo è spesso difficile definire la linea di demarcazione tra scrittura e improvvisazione) delineano il quadro di Live in LA.
Che è quello di una musica al di sopra di stili, mode e generi, aperta a molteplici sollecitazioni – qua e là si percepiscono un giro di blues, una linea di bop, un accenno di swing, una escursione nell’atonalità, una deviazione nel minimalismo, una cadenza folklorica – rielaborate con somma maestria e sensibilità in un unicum organico plasmato dalla personalità dei tre. La riuscita di Live in LA risiede anche nella maestria con la quale Ferris, Dresser e Bradford riescono ad esprimere la propria cifra espressiva senza prevaricazioni o atteggiamenti da primadonna ma esibendo un grande rispetto vicendevole e una ragguardevole libertà e sintonia di pensiero.