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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Bobby Bradford, Frode Gjerstad, Ingebrigt Håker-Flaten, Paal Nilssen-Love – Kampen (NoBusiness, 2012) ****

By Martin Schray

Sometimes there are weird coincidences. When we got new albums on our review list recently, many of them included reminiscences of the golden jazz eras in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Rob Mazurek’s Pulsar Quartet sometimes sounds like the seminal Miles Davis Quintet, Sam Rivers’ trio with Dave Holland and Barry Altschul brings back memories of his RivBea studio days, Michael Blake taps the great jazz-rock bands of the 70s, Joe McPhee’s plays “Naima” and “Round Midnight” on two new reissues, and even Wadada Leo Smith and Louis Moholo-Moholo salute the great Ancestors. Finally, west-coast-legend Bobby Bradford’s new album reminds one of the landmark Ornette Coleman Quartet with Don Cherry, Scott LaFaro and Ed Blackwell.

Somehow a circuit is complete here because Bradford has had a long history with Coleman. In 1953 he met him in Los Angeles and they played together and worked out some revolutionary notions for something completely new, but before any recordings were made, Bradford was drafted into the Air Force. Don Cherry took his place in Coleman's group, and it was Cherry who left his marks on The Shape of Jazz to Come and This Is Our Music. Then Bradford rejoined Coleman's group in 1961, a period during which the group did not record and performed publicly infrequently. Only in the early 1970s and 80s he appeared on Coleman’s Science Fiction and Broken Shadows.

On Kampen, which features 78-year-old Bradford on cornet, Frode Gjerstad on sax and clarinet, Ingebrigt Håker-Flaten on bass, and Paal Nilssen-Love on drums, he seems to revive the music of Coleman’s band with new combatants. There are marvelous moments when Bradford and Gjerstad soar backed up by one of Europe’s best rhythm groups (you will be surprised if you only know them from The Thing). Cornet and sax/clarinet pick up each other’s tunes and build upon them, mutually they are lighting up sparklers. Hardly ever have I heard musicians listening so closely to one another. Gjerstad once said that Bradford is “always trying to make him sound good” and that “he draws you into his music”. Fortunately, the band likes being in this territory. It is a wonderland bursting from elegant solos, you can find military march quotations and hardbop riffs played in unison, there is a deep knowledge about the history of jazz.

You feel like listening to a visionary band which is trying to blend Free Jazz with the original idea of  Dixieland, the music swings (yes!) and it is totally open, freely improvised, harsh, and tender at the same time. The more you listen to it, the more details you find and the more you’ll like it. Shake on it!

The album is released on vinyl only and limited to 300 copies only.

You can buy the album from 

© stef


Paolo said...

Great review as usal Martin! Thanks for letting me pay more attention to this gem. When old glories and new columns collide, the result is the pure essence of Jazz.

allan said...

What a pity it's only available on vinyl.

Martin Schray said...

Dear Allan,
NoBusiness has obviously decided to publish either CDs or vinyl, unlike their former policy when they sometimes published both versions. I really don't want to patronize you but have you ever considered buying a record player? I did that last year and replaced my old one - a decision I have never regretted so far.

To Paolo: Thank you very much. But it is not half as good as yours (see Eli Keszler).

Paolo said...

I agree with you Martin. When music is good, format shouldn't matter, but vinyl is vinyl...
Hey, I'm getting used to yr compliments that I sincerely reciprocate!

Richard said...

I think at this point, I'm going to have to buy a record player. I was distraught that Barry Guy + The Thing was vinyl only. No doubt there'll be similar examples soon enough.

But I still feel this is a bad business decision by the label. Have things on vinyl, by all means. But limiting it to that seems wrong.

Sorry if this is off topic, and possibly going to start an argument.

Enjoyed the review, and this is a pretty great line-up.

Paolo said...

I understand your point of view Richard, and I think we should talk even of this kind of issues on the blog. By now, the most important thing is not coming back to cassettes as in some music genres is happening...

Martin Schray said...

Dear Richard,
I don't think that you are off topic, Paolo is right, we must discuss things like that on the blog, too. I follow NoBusiness' policy and if you have a look at the available albums, you'll find out that most of these limited editions are still available. This means that an album usually sells between 300 and 500 copies. It also explains why they don't have the money to press more, especially a non-profit-organisation like NoBusiness, which puts all the money they make in new releases and projects. The fact that you can't get rich with free jazz albums is a sad truth on the one hand. On the other hand vinyl sales have risen about 30% worldwide in the last three years which explains why many artists and labels go for vinyl again. So again - as I recommended to Allan - if you have the money to buy a new record player, I am sure you won't regret it.
And: NoBusiness sells them to reasonable prices (the CDs, too).
Last but not least: Thank you for enjoying the review.

allan said...

Martin : I take your point on rising vinyl sales and, when funds permit, I might buy a record player although I have to admit that (to my ears anyway) the sound quality of vinyl is not that much better than CD.
Perhaps No Business could consider downloads?

joesh said...

I don't know what No Business are doing at the moment, but often - and this includes other labels - they include a download code so you can also download the album in digital form free of charge (1x) ... if you've bought the album (LP).

You could always buy the vinyl woth someone who has a turntable, and share the costs?

Just a thought?

Paul said...

I don't mind buying the vinyl, but I agree that a download code along with it sweetens the deal. Transferring from vinyl to mp3 takes more time than I have to devote it, so it can become a minor irritant to have to buy on LP.

Martin Schray said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Martin Schray said...

I think it is great that we have such a discussion here (even if it is more about label policy). It is something we should have more often on this blog.
I just e-mailed to Danas Mikailionis, one of the men behind NoBusiness, to let us know what he thinks about the aspects being discussed here. I'll bring in his view immediately as soon if he lets me know. Maybe he just adds a comment himself.
To Allan: I am not one of these die-hard-vinyl fans. I would never say that a whole new world opens soundwise if you hear the music on vinyl. But I like the haptic aspect and the warm sound of vinyl. Of course I buy music on CD as well.

Anonymous said...

Dear Friends,
Danas Mikailionis from NoBusiness here.
You have raised many points that a discussion or exchange of views could be very useful.
Vinyl /+- CD releases. There is no clear concept, very much depending on the musicians, also on us.... Sometimes they only want to have a vinyl release. No CDs. Alhough being a great vinyl freak, with due respect to other opinion, I share their approach. Consider it a piece of art / magic. I always loved books and am a slave of books... but i can't buy a tool (don't even bloody know how it is called) but want to have a book in my hands.. a feeling.. something real... pure. Even any possible surface noice or an occational click provides a great pleasure.
Statistically speaking now. Only 3% of those who obtained vinyls asked for a possible digital download. I even made a small experiment asking people to indicate, whether they'd need digital download of the album, as an extra to the sound.
I accept an opinion of those who like mp3 downloads and ready to discuss it with the musicians. Please send me your ideas to this email -

Great thanks to all of you for your invaluable support.

Nobusiness Records