Out of stock
BOBBY BRADFORD cornet
JOHN CARTER clarinet
1 - TANDEM - 11:55
2 - PETALS - 10:05
3 - ANGLES - clarinet solo - 5:12
4 - PORTRAIT OF J.B.G. * - cornet solo - 6:51
5 - CIRCLE - 8:32
6 - WOODMAN'S HALL BLUES - 10:52
7 - WOMAN * - 6:34
8 - ECHOES FROM RUDOLPH'S - clarinet solo 8:47
1 - TANDEM - 12:33
2 - AND SHE SPEAKS - 7:19
3 - LES MASSES JIGABOO - clarinet solo - 6:27
4 - WOMAN * - cornet solo - 7:47
5 - ECHOES FROM RUDOLPH'S - clarinet solo - 5:39
6 - WOODMAN'S HALL BLUES - 9:12
7 - SWEET SUNSET - 7:42
8 - SWISS ACCOUNT - clarinet solo 8:05
All previously unissued
All compositions by JOHN CARTER except * by BOBBY BRADFORD
John Carter (1928 - 1991) and Bobby Bradford (b. 1934) both grew up in the Dallas / Fort Worth area (after Bradford moved there as a young teenager), both played in Woodman's Hall there, and both knew Ornette Coleman and Charles Moffett there. However they did not know each other until the mid-1960s when Coleman, realising that they both lived in the Los Angeles area, suggested to Carter that he look up Bradford.
Fairly early on in his career, Carter decided that he was unlikely to make a living playing the music he wanted to, so he became a teacher/lecturer - something he continued to do for the rest of his life. Fortunately, he never gave up making music, even though his other activities took up much of his time. In the 1960s, he could be heard on flute and various saxophones as well as clarinet, but by the end of the next decade, he specialised exclusively on the clarinet to become one of supreme exponents of that somewhat neglected instrument.
Bradford's early career is largely a catalogue of near misses with fame. He played in Ornette Coleman's group in Los Angeles before any recordings were made. When he was drafted into the air force in 1954, and when Edward Blackwell decided to return to New Orleans, their places were taken by Don Cherry and Billy Higgins. Bradford was invited to take part in Coleman's seminal 1960 FREE JAZZ recording session, but he was too busy studying at the time, so Freddie Hubbard had to take his place.
When Bradford did join Coleman's group in New York in 1961, it coincided with a period when Coleman refused to work unless he was well paid - which meant that the group rarely played gigs and did not record. Also at that time, Bradford was asked to make a record for Candid, but that label went bust before anything could happen. The end result of all this, was that Bradford, like Carter, became a teacher/lecturer, which he still is. More importantly for us, he became one of the most melodic improvisers in Free Jazz.
Having eventually met each other, Carter and Bradford formed a musical partnership which lasted until the former's untimely demise. They have appeared together (and separately) on record several times. However, this is the first time a recording of them as an unaccompanied duo has been published.
The concert enclosed herein was part of a rare mini-tour of the North East USA. All of the performances are presented unedited and in the order performed. Unfortunately, there is not room for the whole concert, so the last two pieces are on TANDEM 2.
MARTIN DAVIDSON (1996)
"If a man does away with his traditional way of living and throws away his good customs, he had better first make certain he has something of value to replace them." - Basuto proverb
The world still likes to talk about 'freedom' in music, but it is worth wondering sometimes if anyone understands 'free' the way that John Carter and Bobby Bradford practised it. Applying the above proverb to the so-called Free Jazz movement of the last forty years forces the immediate question: Why is the discussion still concerned with 'freedom from' and not 'freedom to'? Almost anyone's definition of this thing called free starts by naming the perceived shackles from which the music has made itself free, and most are impotent to explain the process or product of a music that side-steps repetition, key, and song structure. One important lesson to take from the example of Carter and Bradford's collaboration is that pure escape from musical parameters is not enough to support a personal music: there must always be a constructive element - a will to design - if anything lasting is to ensue. With that will, these two built a concrete, self-sufficient partnership that allowed for expansion and contraction of time and energy according to their own vision.
Carter and Bradford had different artistic personalities long before they knew each other, and even before they became instrumentalists. Their careers illustrate that neither musician ever strayed too far from these philosophies. Les Masses Jigaboo here reflects the tendency of Carter's solo statements and unaccompanied pieces to scrape the ends (do they still exist?) of his instrument's expressive and physical range. Bobby Bradford with and without Carter is a deliberate, medial improviser - concerned with the infinity of architectures that can be fashioned from a relatively brief catalogue of notes. Carter's suspenseful rendering can impart to any line the headlong leap of improvisation, while Bobby Bradford's poise makes many of his spontaneous figures seem cast in stone like compositions. The melding of these identities transcended any discrepancy in viewpoints. Carter/Bradford succeeded in creating a duo that neither allows one of the personalities dominance, nor leaves any "roles" unplayed.
When Carter and Bradford began playing together, improvising musicians duetting in concert or on record were scarce by any accounting. Subtract out the piano or bass "accompaniments" to a melody player and the number dwindles further; two wind instruments playing without a net was nearly unheard of. But the meaning of what they achieved is not captured by statistics: Carter and Bradford were not the first to record wind duos and in fact never made a record together that showed just their two voices. They were, however, alone in the field of musicians who pursued the duo as a self-sufficient and steady configuration.
BEN YOUNG (1996)
John Carter (1928 - 1991) and Bobby Bradford (b. 1934) were invited to play the first half of a 1979 UCLA concert that featured the Art Ensemble of Chicago in the second half. This CD contains the whole of their exciting performance that evening - all six pieces are presented complete and in the order of performance. The final two pieces on this CD are the final two pieces from their 1982 Worcester concert - the first eight pieces performed at this concert comprised TANDEM 1.
MARTIN DAVIDSON (1996)
"The name Tandem is a succinct summation of how they played with each other. They could have easily named the piece 'Call and Response', the ancient method of improvising a song though multiple cycles. The 1979 version of Tandem opens with the rapid melody, goes into improvisations until the head reappears at the end of the first minute. Then they 'chase' each other, frequently exchanging leadership, one voice or the other drifting in and out of the melody, almost always ending sections in high-note harmony. The composition ends with a rapid high-note re-statement of the melody.
The 1982 version opens with a slow, seven note progression on clarinet which Bradford reprises with variation. The harmonization is purposeful until 2:18, when they take a moment for a 'down-beat' and launch into the fast melody. This version has greater variation in tempi, and ends expressing the melody quite softly. Both versions are playful, like cats chasing each other.
Carter and Bradford's duet work is characterized by telepathic interplay, ability to hit and hold the same high tones simultaneously mid-improvisation, and their phenomenal ability to alter tempi at will without sacrificing the forward motion and logic of the composition. One never feels that they are displaying technique, but rather that they are achieving a musical end through the use of harmonic and melodic devices.
Les Masses Jigaboo is a Carter solo, an opportunity to examine Carter's virtuosic technique. The composition is based on a four note riff, which he uses to explore the range of the horn and the splitting out of upper-register harmonics. He runs the riff and improvisations prestissimo, altering the progressions between the bottom end of the horn and the treble but with a gradually increasing arc extending the high field of the horn. By 4:30, he is broadcasting exclusively i n the treble zone, reaching high above the clarinet's nominal range. The harmonic overlays begin to break into a series of discreet and simultaneously well-differentiated tones. The tension among these notes causes suspense, an unbelievingness in the aural sensation. At the moment of highest intensity Carter pauses and dramatically drops into the chalumeau timbre. The abrupt transition releases the tension and gets the kind of surprise applause that is virtually impossible to achieve in a solo concert."
LAURENCE SVIRCHEV - www.svirchev.com 2001
"Clarinetist Carter and cornetist Bradford collaborated from their first meeting in 1964 until Carter's untimely passing in 1991. Their partnership was the most significant one for each man in his adult professional life, and these simpatico exchanges are a testament to that fact. While the audio quality of this material is not always optimal, the musical attributes compensate for these shortcomings. Carter and Bradford were two mature, individual voices on their respective instruments who were in their prime (as Bradford still is). They essayed original material exclusively because they saw no need to interpret other people's music. Carter's clarinet could fluidly snake up and down the registers in the blink of an eye, while Bradford favoured linear statements. They anticipated each other as brilliantly as they followed their own muses: While the lead voice played staccato, the support went legato. Carter and Bradford played all the ramifications of the Texas blues on these two discs with warmth, lyricism, drive, melancholy, mirth, and shouting rambunctiousness."
KIRK SILSBEE - JAZZIZ 1997
"Here the pair take themes from their quartet repertoire and reduce the music down to its essence - freely phrased melodic lines that intertwine, support and inspire. They incorporate extended techniques as casually as breathing, all the while retaining a commitment to song, whether traditional swing (Woodman's Hall Blues), pastoral delicacy (Petals), or angular counterpoint (Tandem). Bradford's trumpet is a liquid, lyrical joy, darting and weaving with aplomb, while Carter, a reed master and model for younger players like Don Byron and Ben Goldberg, solos with slippery, serpentine abandon, his tone as lush as velvet, dangerous as barbed wire, or evebescent as a cloud. Together, their richly textured filigree and flights of fantasy are breathtaking. There's better sound on TANDEM 1, but both discs are musically exhilarating."
ART LANGE - PULSE! 1997
"The two find an ideal balance between composed and improvised elements. Few musicians in improvised music have played together as much as the two and the interplay and dialogue are at a sublime level. Accompaniment is a rare talent among jazz wind players and it's responsible for much of the success of this music, and easy give-and-take that has the two exchanging lines and roles and even timbres. Lovely, too, is the way Carter uses register contrasts and near-electronic sounds to extend the dialogue."
STUART BROOMER - CODA 1997
"Slap one of these CDs in the machine and what leaps out immediately at the listener is the originality of Carter's playing: he was a clear-headed improviser with awesome control of his instrument. Never unduly burdened with history, his compacted solo contributions (particularly the wonderful Les Masses Jigaboo) are dense and brilliant pieces of music, pushing at the boundaries of the instrument and jammed full of melodic zest. The bluff and pithy Bradford is less ambitious solo, but comes into his own in the duo pieces. In tandem, which is what this is all about after all, the pair work semi-independently, pursuing paths that diverge and continually cross and re-cross in unexpected ways. The two-voice format is a challenging one over the duration of even one CD, but the music amply rewards the concentration - thoughtful free music, buzzing with invention."
WILL MONTGOMERY - RUBBERNECK 1997
"All credit to Martin Davidson for deciding that this music was significant enough to overturn doubts about its technical quality."
RICHARD COOK and/or BRIAN MORTON - 'The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD' 1998
"Tandemkicks off both sessions, a warm-up piece with enough self-conscious showmanship to win over the flintiest sceptic. Carter often plays the normative role, bringing the music back to a more logical and discursive position, tempering Bradford´s fieriness. Both men take solos: Bradford´s forcefully romantic Woma´on Tandem 2 and Portrait of JB on the first disk, Carter´s Angles, two versions of Echos from Rudolph´s (one on each CD) and the startling Les Masses Jigaboos, which anticipates his ambitious Afro-suite of later years. Important music. "
RICHARD COOK and/or BRIAN MORTON - 'The Penguin Guide to JAZZ RECORDINGS' 9th edition 2008
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