By Tony Gieske
A champion of the bloodless avant garde, Bobby Bradford, was mounting one of his sorties in broad daylight on the wide open spaces of the county art museum. He’d brought with him six fellow warriors of the future, and they made music, enjoyable music, music that did not exactly knock your socks off since you probably had on your sandals.
Bradford earned his far-out credentials replacing Don Cherry in the band of fellow Texan Ornette Coleman back in the day. But his cornet playing, while innovative in its way, remains firmly rooted in bebop, quite unlike either Coleman or Cherry. It is therefore accessible in open air, like the LACMA terrace where the Bradford Mo’tet set up shop Friday.
True, Bradford scoots around various strictures like measures and keys and tunes and stuff but his cornet sound is so gleaming and beautiful that the ear forgives him effortlessly.
Also, you can’t swing like this and fail. To guarantee the groove, as it is known, Roberto Miranda was playing bass, or maybe it was a great big cello; Christopher Garcia shadowed him tightly with his drums, and Don Preston put the piano chords precisely in their places, dissonant or not.
This left Bradford’s fellow soloists sufficiently comfortable to pursue their nominally rebellious but never excessive objectives. Vin Golia ranged above, within and under the staff with his deep baritone saxophone carvings. Occasionally they were joined below the staff by the cornet’s underbelly growl — always in tune, yes!
Then Chuck Manning would pay some posthumous allegiance to Dexter Gordon on his tenor and Ken Rosser would top him with his jagged electric guitar strokes.
When his turn came, Don Preston would segue from his deft and bold comping to his solo bag, like stronger Satie.
Leading this one and that one, Bradford did not get to contribute an ample enough ration of his lustrous output, to my way of thinking. Maybe the second set under the mild bounty of the L.A. sky provided more, but I couldn’t stay. I had to go home and write.
Photos by Tony Gieske. Read and see more of Tony’s jazz essays and photos at his personal web site tonyspage.com.