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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Bobby Bradford & John Carter Quintet - No U-Turn (Dark Tree, 2015) ****

By Stef

Few musicians have a combined history like cornetist Bobby Bradford and clarinetist John Carter, starting in 1970 with "Seeking", a title which says a lot. It was to be their music, and nobody else's. Highly recommended albums are "Castles Of Ghana", "Dauwhe", "Dance Of The Love Ghosts", and well, several others too.

Carter passed away in 1991, and that put an end to their combined output, but then now we have this wonderful "No U-Turn", a live recording dating from 1975 of a performance in Pasadena, California. The band further consists of Roberto Miranda and Stanley Carter on bass, and William Jeffrey on drums.

The long first track, "Love's Dream" first appeared on the same-titled album from 1974 of Bobby Bradford with John Stevens, Trevor Watts and Kent Carter, as are "She (Woman)", "Coming On", while the last track, "Circle", penned by Carter first appeared on "Secrets" from 1973, and later on "Tandem 1", and it starts with a wonderful duet between cornet and clarinet, after which the band goes back into high energy mode. "Come Softly" is a more meditative piece with a central role for Carter's soprano and I think it is the only original composition on the album. That should not limit the fun, because all tracks are highly enjoyable, and the audience is quite enthusiastic and as much part of the music as the band. Their playing is good as usual, and the themes are either grand, as in "Love's Dream", and "She", or just platforms for free improvisation, as on most of the other tracks. The nature of the music makes it both wildly energetic and messy at times, and after a drum solo and bass solo on "Comin' On", the band has some trouble picking up the pace again, but these are minor comments.

The performance is great, very soulful, with moments of great beauty, and all four musicians give the best of themselves, to great acclaim of a relatively large and very attentive audience.

Available from Instantjazz.


Anonymous said...

"Self Determination Music" (Flying Dutchman, 1970) much more better. This album was reissued on CD in 2015 by Ace Records.

joesh said...

Yes, I also liked this album, but unfortunately it isn't as good as the quintet's first studio albums, "Seeking", "Flight for Four" and as already stated "Self Determination Music". These were classic albums that have sadly been forgotten, although HatHut re-released "Seeking" at some point.

If you haven't heard the groups first recording don't hesitate to look them up as its some of Carter and Bradford's finest moments. As for the Black Saint/Gramavision records (often thought of as a suit), I find them are a strange mixture. Carter was clearly onto something and its true that the "Castles of Ghana" shone like a jewel in the crown. However the others had moments of brilliance which somehow didn't always come off so well - certainly in retrospect - although I still enjoy listening to them.

If anyone's interested in a little more info I wrote a short piece on my blog a few years ago featuring Carter: