258

Geof Bradfield: African Flowers

Mark Corroto By

Sign in to view read count
Geof Bradfield: African Flowers Saxophonist Geof Bradfield's experiences traveling and performing in Rwanda, Congo, Uganda, and Zimbabwe in 2008 were the inspiration for African Flowers. Bradfield was a member of pianist Ryan Cohan's quartet, and the band took part in a US State Department/Jazz at Lincoln Center tour. This extended work for sextet features excellent writing and strong musicianship from Cohan, guitarist Jeff Parker, trumpeter Victor Garcia, bassist Clark Sommers and drummer George Fludas.

African Flowers follows the quartet release Urban Nomad (Origin, 2008) and Bradfield's stunning trio debut, Rule Of Three (Liberated Zone Records, 2003).

While Africa was the inspiration for this release; this is not world music. Better described as "jazz world music," Bradfield connects the dots between African folk music and the American jazz tradition. The opening "Butare," based on a Rwandan praise song, conjures thoughts of Don Cherry and, with Bradfield hoisting a soprano saxophone, there are a few passing references to John Coltrane's "My Favorite Things."

The evidence that American jazz contains African DNA is not disputed these days—from the blues to swing, the seeds that germinated in United States soil were planted centuries ago in Africa. Bradfield's fluid suite travels seamlessly, with some agile interludes provided by piano, drum and bass solos. On the touching ballad "The Children's Room," written after a visit to the genocide memorial in Rwanda, Bradfield switches to bass clarinet; his woody sound mingling with Sommers' resonating bass and Garcia's mournful trumpet.

Bradfield returns to tenor for the Congolese Rhumba, "Lubumbashi." Attentive ears might place this piece not in Africa but somewhere closer, perhaps Cuba or Puerto Rico. While Fludas drives the clavé, the horns dance around the threading needle of Parker's guitar notes. Elsewhere, the music may be called taarab; a blend from Africa, Middle East, and Europe, but the sound on "Nairobi Transit" evokes the mighty Art Blakey and his muscular brand of hard bop.

Bradfield's excellent jazz adventure into Africa ultimately leads right back home. Funny, how small this world actually is. This is one beautiful record.

Track Listing: Butare; Piano Solo; The Children's Room; Lubumbashi; Mama Yemo; Drum Solo; Nairobi Transit; Prelude; Kampala; Bass Solo; The Nurse From Nairobi; Harare/Leaving Africa.

Personnel: Geof Bradfield: tenor saxophone, soprano sxophone, bass clarinet, flute; Ryan Cohan: piano; Jeff Parker: guitar; Victor Garcia:trumpet, flugelhorn, congas, percussion; Clark Sommers: bass; George Fludas: drums, percussion.

Title: African Flowers | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Origin Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles

More Articles

Read BACHanalia CD/LP/Track Review BACHanalia
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Hallways CD/LP/Track Review Hallways
by Paul Rauch
Published: June 24, 2017
Read The Crave CD/LP/Track Review The Crave
by John Sharpe
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Chase The Light (Excursions in Soul, Reggae, Funk, and Dub) CD/LP/Track Review Chase The Light (Excursions in Soul, Reggae, Funk, and Dub)
by Joe Gatto
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Kickin' Child - The Lost Album 1965 CD/LP/Track Review Kickin' Child - The Lost Album 1965
by Doug Collette
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Towards Language CD/LP/Track Review Towards Language
by John Eyles
Published: June 23, 2017
Read "The Eastcote Studios Session" CD/LP/Track Review The Eastcote Studios Session
by John Eyles
Published: November 30, 2016
Read "05:21" CD/LP/Track Review 05:21
by Jim Trageser
Published: November 28, 2016
Read "Disappeared Behind the Sun" CD/LP/Track Review Disappeared Behind the Sun
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 29, 2017
Read "Taking Direction" CD/LP/Track Review Taking Direction
by Marithe Van der Aa
Published: April 4, 2017
Read "Zentuary" CD/LP/Track Review Zentuary
by John Kelman
Published: December 25, 2016
Read "Supreme" CD/LP/Track Review Supreme
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 25, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.