Bradford / Dresser / Ferris – Live in LA (CF 241)
This disc gets more beautiful on each listen! The long-standing friendship of trumpeter/cornetist Bradford, bassist Dresser and trombonist Ferris bears striking musical fruit on this 2009 recording, which is not really a concert date at all; rather, it’s a living-room recording that nevertheless boasts all the immediacy and nuance of a club date.
The recording is superb, which is essential in order to catch every push, pull and jab in which these three veterans engage. Every detail is up close without ever clouding the dynamic spectrum. Just listen to Ferris’ first note on the ground-swelling and slow-burning blues of “Purge,” where he slides into a slow slinky vibrato that decays with gorgeous control. Bradford answers in kind, and Dresser, ever the attentive listener, chimes in with a percussive thud which explains why this trio needs no drummer. If further proof was required, his solo on the opening of “Ready to Go” should seal the deal. He punches, slides and vamps as only Bobby Bradford can, backing Ferris’ breathy exhortations with extraordinary detail, each phrase a world of invention unto itself, but from deep in the pocket. The counterpoint emergent upon Bradford’s entrance is stunning, and each player’s mature style is tempered by a sense of fun, most likely due to their enjoyment of the occasion.
Yet, it is the group interplay that ultimately makes this disc so enjoyable, as can be heard in the uplifting and frolicsome “In my Dream,” or on the slow groove of “Panda’s Run,” where Bradford and Ferris sometimes sound like one instrument, so intertwined are the lines and phrases as the two cross registers.
A thin, almost translucent layer of reverb coats the proceedings in a layer of glass, preserving and enhancing the excitement and care in every note. Far from being intrusive, it only adds to the sense of occasion as these three veterans reunite, finally documenting their multifarious experiences and shared musical journey. This is now one of my favorite releases in Clean Feed’s dauntingly extensive catalog.