The bass, first electric then acoustic, would come later, after the guitar and much in the way of immersion in many musical genres. He looks back on his background with gratitude and with a bit of awe. "I find it amazing now just how much I was exposed to at the timefamily meetings with Leonard Bernstein and Christopher Hogwood, who came over and played our piano. At the time though, classical music was more a thing to rebel against than to embrace.
Radding's musical upbringing in Arlington, Virginia prepared him for a career in improvisation and composition in ways he could never have imagined, fostered by a ceaseless curiosity. It was never enough for him just to hear one album by a beloved musician; he would then read voraciously about every aspect of that player's biography and influences. So it was that through The Beatles, he came to John McLaughlin and then to John Coltrane, purchasing the fiercely experimental Om (Impulse!, 1965). "Yeah, that was my first jazz record, Radding laughs.
He then played in some rock bands, notably one called Dain Brammage, now known as the group that spawned Dave Grohl, future Nirvana drummer. A real interest in contemporary classical music began to emerge, but even monster leaps like Om and Krystof Penderecki did not prepare Radding for the way his musical life exploded into multi-focus when he moved to Brooklyn in 1988. There, he began to form the relationships that would foster his creativity, allowing new levels of musical awareness to be reached.
Of his formative influences, Mark Dresser obviously holds pride of place. Radding came to Dresser through exposure to Anthony Braxton's stunning 1980s quartet with Dresser, Gerry Hemingway and Marilyn Crispell and through an association with Elliott Sharp, Dresser became Radding's teacher. "His influence is so fundamental to what I do now, right down to my posture when I play; that's how we spent most of our first lesson, getting my posture right. I just can't say enough about how formative my experience studying with him was.
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