Amazon.com Widgets

Geof Bradfield: Melba! (2013)

By Published: | 2,097 views
Geof Bradfield: Melba! How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Melba Liston
Melba Liston
b.1926
trombone
(1926-1999) isn't one of the big names that comes up when great jazz composer/arrangers are mentioned, but it should be. Starting as a trombonist with some of the greats—Dizzy Gillespie
Dizzy Gillespie
Dizzy Gillespie
1917 - 1993
trumpet
, Dexter Gordon
Dexter Gordon
Dexter Gordon
1923 - 1990
sax, tenor
, Count Basie
Count Basie
Count Basie
1904 - 1984
piano
, Art Blakey
Art Blakey
Art Blakey
1919 - 1990
drums
—she soon began working with Randy Weston
Randy Weston
Randy Weston
b.1926
piano
, arranging the pianist's composition on Uhuru Africa, (Roulette Records, 1960) and Highlife (Roulette Records, 1961). She also wrote the charts for saxophonist Johnny Griffin
Johnny Griffin
Johnny Griffin
1928 - 2008
sax, tenor
, vibraphonist Milt Jackson
Milt Jackson
Milt Jackson
1923 - 1999
vibraphone
, drummer Elvin Jones
Elvin Jones
Elvin Jones
1927 - 2004
drums
and bassist Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus
1922 - 1979
bass, acoustic
. Fast forward thirty plus years and she again collaborated with Weston for an under-appreciated masterpiece, The Spirits of Our Ancestors (Polygram Records, 1992), a double disc that reedman Geof Bradfield
Geof Bradfield
Geof Bradfield
b.1970
saxophone
, in his student days stint as a record shop employee, stumbled upon.

Entering the musical world of Melba Liston—her scores for Motown Records, for vocalist Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday
1915 - 1959
vocalist
, pianist Mary Lou Williams
Mary Lou Williams
Mary Lou Williams
1910 - 1981
piano
—had Bradfield smitten with the trombonist/arranger's artistry. Melba! is Geof Bradfield's love letter to the under-appreciated genius.

On this set of originals laid down to capture pay tribute to Liston's life and spirit, Bradfield heads up a top tier septet that starts the journey at Liston's early days, with "Kansas City Child," and begins with a loose fabric fanfare, reeds and brass trombone wandering, until Joel Adams—who has the trombone chair in the band—steps forward with a spirited solo in front of {Ryan Cohan}}'s percussive sparkle on piano, until the other horns join back in to give the sound a church-like mood.

"Central Avenue" celebrates Liston's time in Los Angeles during the 1940s, working for bandleader Gerald Wilson. It is a hip and well-polished arrangement, with a tangy guitar turn by Jeff Parker and a bright, singing trumpet solo from Victor Garcia. "Dizzy Gillespie" is a nod to the time Liston spent in the trumpet great's employ, capturing some of Gillespie's famous "Latin tinge" that gives way to a gorgeously brooding section of piano introspection leading into trumpeter Garcia's muted ruminations and Bradfield's sweet soprano sax lines.

"Randy Weston" celebrates Liston's finest contribution to the jazz cannon via her work with the pianist, celebrating with Weston-esque verve the African rhythms and North African melodic structures that Bradfield first encountered in the Weston/Liston collaborations. It is a piece that, expanded perhaps with more horns and percussion, would fit in with sometimes ominous, sometimes celebratory moods of the Weston/Liston masterpiece, The Spirits of Our Ancestors.

This six piece suite/homage to Melba Liston closes with the longest section, the eleven and a half minute "Homecoming," a tranquil and soothing celebration of the artists return to the U.S. after a time spent in Jamaica; a return that saw her introducing an all-female band and headlining at the Kansas City Jazz Festival in 1979. It is a touching and poignant tune, full of beauty and love, leading into a brief epilogue, featuring vocalist Maggie Burrell's rich-timbre and heartfelt passion backed by bass and piano, a succinct, and lovely no frills wrap-up to a magnificent recording.

Track Listing: Kansas City Child; Central Avenue; Dizzy Gillespie; Randy Weston; Solo Saxophone Introduction; Detroit/Kingston; Homecoming; "Let Me Not Lose My Dream.

Personnel: Geof Bradfield: Tenor and soprano saxophones; Victor Garcia: trumpet, flugelhorn, percussion; Joel Adams: trombone; Jeff Parker: guitar; Ryan Cohan: piano; Clark Sommers: bass; George Fludas: drums, percussion; Maggie Burrell: vocal (7)

Record Label: Origin Records

Style: Modern Jazz


comments powered by Disqus
Search
Support All About Jazz Through Amazon

Weekly Giveaways

Mark Elf

Mark Elf

About | Enter

Stefano Bollani

Stefano Bollani

About | Enter

Carmen Lundy

Carmen Lundy

About | Enter

Wadada Leo Smith

Wadada Leo Smith

About | Enter

Bandzoogle: GET STARTED TODAY - FREE TRIAL

Enter it twice.
To the weekly jazz events calendar

Enter the numbers in the graphic
Enter the code in this picture

Log in

One moment, you will be redirected shortly.

Article Search