The New Art Jazz Ensemble was formed in 1964 by John Carter (alto and tenor saxophones, clarinet, flute) and Bobby Bradford (trumpet). They brought in Tom Williamson (bass) and Bruz Freeman (drums) to give structure to their vision: each player listening to and cooperating with the others, contributing to the group's collective expression within the mood and movement of the theme. The quartet assimilated this approach, and by the time this album was recorded in 1969, the musicians shared a cohesive sense of purpose and direction. This was the first recording by the NAJE, presented here as the John Carter/Bobby Bradford Quartet.
Carter blows in like a tempest on "In the Vineyard, his tenor saxophone turning in bop-fired whorls before he settles into a spacious mode. Even as he does so, he continues to twist and torque his lines, and the detail he brings in impels attention. Bradford takes a melodic path as he swings out, forging a happy path and finding inventive nooks along the way that add to the adventure.
Carter plays the clarinet on "Sticks and Stones, getting into high gear with darting lines. He is luminous when he changes tack to get deeper into the timbre of the flute or lay down a longer trajectory. Bradford comes in and locks reeds with Carter over a churning rhythm from Freeman and Williamson, before he lets melody take over and cool the heat. "Seeking moves into gentle territory; Carter explores the theme on the flute over Williamson's bass line. Bradford glides in to add some punchy lines and a deeper hue, without segmenting the metre. The tune testifies to the diversity that this quartet was capable of.
Whatever you call it, this quartet keeps the lure constant, making Seeking a gem to treasure.
In the Vineyard; Karen on Monday; Sticks and stones; The Village Dancers; Seeking; Dong for the Unsung.
John Carter: alto and tenor saxophones, clarinet and flute; Bobby Bradford: trumpet; Tom Williamson: double
bass; Bruz Freeman: drums.