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John Carter - Bobby Bradford - Mosaic Select 36 (Mosaic, 2010)

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Clarinetist and saxophonist John Carter and trumpeter Bobby Bradford co-led an excellent band in the 1970's that was steeped in the free-bop of Ornette Coleman, but clearly taken in a unique and personal direction. This three disc compilation brings together the albums that Carter and Bradford recorded for Revelation Records, Seeking and Secrets, along with unreleased material including a fascinating duo performance. Seeking is a quartet album with the co-leaders joined by Tom Williamson on bass and Bruz Freeman on drums. he band called themselves The New Jazz Art Ensemble at the time and recorded this album in 1969. “In the Vineyard" and the “The Village Dancers" are very exciting up-tempo performances, with the band improvising collectively very well, and Carter and Bradford soloing with great strength and power. “Karen On Monday" is a very interesting sound-painting, spacious and well paced and featuring a potent yet well controlled trumpet solo. John Carter breaks out the flute on the title track “Seeking" with the flute and bass coupling with light percussion to create an open and poignant performance. “Song For The Unsung"ends the album with an open ended mid-tempo performance. Secrets, recorded in 1971 and '72 adds an interesting new wrinkle with a pianist joining the group. This helps the group fill out their sound a little bit but does nothing to obstruct the implied freedom of their music. Bill Henderson's piano bounces brightly around shifting bass and drums on “Latin" and the strong full piano on “Woodmen Hall Blues" provides an excellent foundation leading to an open break for intertwined saxophone and trumpet. The unreleased material finds Carter and Bradford in the very studio where Stevie Wonder recorded his classic Innervisions album playing a series of duets that are haunting and beautiful. “And She Speaks" builds from silence to smears and vocalizations that are fascinating to listen to, while the remainder of the session shows the maturity and patience of the musicians using open space and near telepathic interplay to weave compelling improvisations. Jonathan Horwich and Bill Hardy did a great service to the jazz community recording this great band on a shoestring in the 1970's and Mosaic has done their usual excellent job in reissuing this valuable material by one of the great unsung bands of the 1970's with fine liner notes and packaging.

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This story appears courtesy of Music and More by Tim Niland.
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