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File under: Free Improvisation

Bobby Bradford, Frode Gjerstad, John Stevens, Kent Carter

Blue Cat (LP)

Label: NoBusiness Records

Format: LP

Genre: Jazz

In stock


**400 copies** Blue Cat is a great live recording taken in June 1991 by Frode Gjerstad in Albany, London, during a UK tour. Musicians on these recordings are: Bobby Bradford - cornet, Frode Gjerstad - alto saxophone, Kent Carter - acoustic bass, John Stevens - drums. Mastered by Arūnas Zujus at MAMAstudios, design by Oskaras Anosovas.  Though not specifically billed as such, this archival release from NoBusiness captures a recording from a 1991 UK tour of the group Detail in a quartet formation with cornetist Bobby Bradford, alto player Frode Gjerstad, bassist Kent Carter, and drummer John Stevens. Bradford first played with John Stevens’ Spontaneous Music Ensemble when he traveled to London in the summer of 1971 (documented on a great Nessa recording) and played with Detail (Gjerstad, Stevens, and bassist Johnny Dyani) on a short tour in 1986 shortly before Dyani’s death. By the late 80s, bassist Kent Carter had been recruited to the group which continued until Stevens’ death in 1994. That later version of the group didn’t record much, making this recording all-the-more valuable.

Over the course of three extended pieces, the four stretch out with the type of freewheeling, open-pulse, collective improvisation they all relished. Gjerstad and Bradford are effective foils for each other, a partnership they’ve continued to mine over the years. The two grab on to free melodic themes and spin them with loose, spontaneous lyricism. Bradford’s warm, round tone meshes well with Gjerstad’s lithe angular phrasing. Carter honed his ability to propel open thematic improvisation most notably in his extended tenure with Steve Lacy, and his driving lines galvanize the music throughout. And, as usual, Stevens’ spontaneous, dynamic sense of free momentum thrusts the quartet along with pliant energy. What really stands out here is the way the four effortlessly coalesce into a collective unit. Lines are seamlessly tossed back and forth between Bradford and Gjerstad as Carter and Stevens spur things along with supple energy. The vibrant fluidity of the playing is outstanding throughout, full of taught intensity and potency.

Each of the players gets plenty of solo space which they make the most of. But it’s how they navigate their way through the pieces together, moving in and out of synch that really energizes the set. The theme of the second piece is reminiscent of Ornette Coleman, someone Bradford spent time working with, and the way the quartet structures their playing has an affinity with the early ‘60s Coleman quartet while still sounding completely unique. This documents a previously undocumented grouping at a point where Detail wasn’t recording much. The recording quality has a clear presence and everyone is nicely balanced, particularly considering that it was captured live. All too often, these sorts of archival finds have some historical interest, but are really for completists. Happily, this is far from the case with this set which still sounds vital almost three decades later.

Bobby Bradford – cornet
Frode Gjerstad – alto saxophone
Kent Carter – acoustic bass
John Stevens – drums

File under: Free Improvisation
Cat. number: NBLP 130
Year: 2019
Recorded June 1991 in Albany, London, ... , during a UK tour Limited edition of 400 records P&C 2019, NoBusiness Records Records made in Germany

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