Bobby Bradford

Bobby Bradford: Varistar

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Artist: Bobby Bradford

Artist: Bobby Bradford
Title: Varistar

VARISTAR QUOTES Ten years after it was recorded, this music is finally released, and with reason: the trio, with Bobby Bradford on cornet, Tom Heasley on tuba and Ken Rosser on guitar, brings not only an unusual line-up, but their music finds a perfect balance between tunes rooted in jazz composition, chamber jazz, and avant-garde explorations, and the album evolves in that direction, starting with abstract music, improvising with high intervallic jumps, with Rosser's guitar sounding like a jazz guitar, and the tuba acting as a bass and solo instrument simultaneously, while at the end the electronics and the atmospheric soundscapes start building the background for Bradford's more melancholy lines that evolve not too far from a singe tonal center, and the tuba ads warm depth to the slow flow, while the guitar has more Rypdalesque rock-influences. Bradford of course has a long standing in free jazz, having worked with Ornette Coleman, John Carter, and David Murray amongst many others, and with quite an impressive list of own albums, especially qualitatively, but this album is something else. It doesn't swing and it's not bluesy or soulful, but at the same time it does and it is. There are some moments of drama ('Ohio'), but also of fun and playfulness ('Crooked March'), a long sad blues ('Not Forgotten') with acoustic guitar accompaniment, but then the album changes with 'Practically Sensible' acting as the pivoting point, the structure becomes more lose, the tones longer, the intervals shorter, yet it all remains quite intense and closely-knit in terms of interaction. It is quite difficult to describe the music, because it's so full of paradoxes and contradictions, it's accessible and not quite, it's varied yet focused. This may have been the reason why it took ten years to be released, but what a pleasure that it finally happened. Some of the pieces are at times a little too lengthy, but otherwise, quite a treat. Stef's Free Jazz Blog BOBBY BRADFORD/TOM HEASLEY/KEN ROSSER - Varistar (Full Bleed 02; USA) Personnel: Bobby Bradford on cornet, Tom Heasley on tuba and Ken Rosser on guitar & effects.    'Varistar' is something else entirely. For this LA-based trio Bobby collaborates with the ambient/drone tuba specialist Tom Heasley, whose previous discs we have reviewed favorable and still stock with microtonal guitarist & teacher Ken Rosser. 'Delicious Red' is a slow and haunting ballad with Bobby's poignant cornet floating on top of the soft, shimmering guitar and hypnotic tuba bass lines. This a perfectly balanced trio Tom's thick whale-like tuba providing a dense, warm cushion underneath both of his comrades. While Bobby plays elegant, sublime  cornet on top, Ken plays restrained, exquisite flowing lines of notes that weave their way around the cornet perfectly. There is a constant dialogue going on between all three members of this superb trio as well as inspired solos that emerge from the clouds. Mr. Rosser switches between bluesy chords and occasional slide notes with solos that interact with cornet and tuba at the same time. This music is often most cerebral and takes us on journey that seems to float in space or on the water, yet it engages the senses in more ways than one. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery.

1.1 Delicious Red
1.2 Ohio
1.3 Crooked March
1.4 Not Forgotten
1.5 Practically Sensible
1.6 Varistar
1.7 Elegy for John Carter

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