Bobby Bradford Mark Dresser Glenn Ferris – Live in LA (CF 241)
LA trumpeter/cornetist Bobby Bradford is a living legend of free jazz music. He grew up in Fort Worth, Texas and played with childhood friend Ornette Coleman, eventually replacing Don Cherry in Coleman’s quartet years later, after a stint in the Air Force, and the move to California. He enjoyed a long and fruitful association with reed master John Carter, another Texas transplant, that lasted until Carter’s death.
Glenn Ferris began playing trombone as a professional in the ahead-of-its-time Don Ellis Orchestra in 1968, when he was just 18. In 1972, he went out on the road with Frank Zappa, and ultimately landed in France, where he continues to teach and play presently. Mark Dresser first played with Bradford in the early ’70s, in a group with David Murray on saxophone and James Newton on flute, helmed by future music critic/drummer Stanley Crouch. He moved to Italy via a Fulbright Fellowship to study with Franco Petracchi, then to New York for 18 years playing with Anthony Braxton and other leaders of the free jazz continuum, before returning to San Diego to teach at UCSD. Live In LA represents a sublime collaborative effort between three master musicians at the top of their game. All of these guys share a very strong rhythmic component–allowing them to breathe together as a unit despite the absence of drums. Indeed, Dresser performs a sort of double duty–keeping time not only through the surety of his bass line flow, but also with well-timed percussive effects that drive the pulse forward. Dresser’s “For Bradford,” opens the disc, and the polyphony of the two horns over the shifting metrics of the bass is well established when Ferris muscles to the front with bluesy repetitions and swinging lines, soon joined by the fat, smearing remarks of Bradford. They solo together, then suddenly Dresser surfaces with his trademarked double-glissandi and chromatic strumming. “In My Dream,” an original by the trombonist, begins with a fanfare like melody, and when Dresser breaks into straight “time” playing, the results are ecstatic, opening up a bed of support for Ferris’ ebullient, swinging solo. On “Pandas Run” and “Bamboo Shoots,” the three players create remarkably cogent, on-the-spot group improvisations that bear the same weight as the more composed material. Bradford lays out long lines of chromatic sequences, then rests, as Ferris takes over with burring, slurring commentary. Dresser’s bass is always muscular and adroit, and his hands are so powerful, he occasionally makes his strings sound like rubber-bands about to snap. “Bbjc,” by the bassist, opens with Bradford and Ferris engaged in echoing lines while Dresser alternates between furious walking, shifting pedal tones and brief moments of violent string slapping. Bradford and Ferris solo in tandem– the trumpeter’s insistent trills often drawing short bursts of multiphonics from the trombone in reply. Bradford even whips out the plunger-mute for some gutbucket discourse–a true aural delight.