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Sunday, April 17, 2005

Times Argus > Bobby Bradford: 'One of the best cornet players playing today'

Times Argus: "Bobby Bradford: 'One of the best cornet players playing today'
Bobby Bradford: 'One of the best cornet players playing today'

April 15, 2005

By Tom Huntington Arts Correspondent

"The All Music Guide" calls him "one of the best trumpeters to emerge from the avant-garde," while no less than saxophone legend Ornette Coleman has dubbed him "one of the best cornet players playing today."

Still, it's safe to say that Bobby Bradford remains a coterie interest and relative unknown among all but the most diehard free jazz fanatics, and an unsung master of the instrument.

On Saturday, April 23, the southern California cornetist and educator will make a rare East Coast appearance when he takes the stage at the College Hall Chapel at Vermont College in Montpelier, in a concert presented by recently revived Green Mountain Jazz Series.

"It's our first leap into West Coast jazz," says Montpelier pianist Michael Arnowitt, who serves as artistic director of the series.

"He's a very interesting musician, somebody who is both experimental and accessible at the same time. He's that rare bird."

Backing Bradford will be a quintet consisting of the cornetist's longtime tenor sax player Chuck Manning, a Los Angeles-based standout who has also played with the acclaimed L.A. Jazz Quartet; Massachusetts-based drummer Claire Arenius; southern Vermont pianist and Vermont Jazz Center director Eugene Uman (who is also a member of the Claire Arenius Trio, which delivered an impressive performance at the 2001 Burlington Discover Jazz Festival); and southern Vermont bassist Jamie MacDonald.

Central Vermont chromatic harmonica standout John LaRouche, who studied with Bradford years ago in L.A., will also perform with the quintet.

Bradford, 70, is perhaps best known – if at all – for his decades-long association with the late, great composer/clarinetist and fellow Texan John Carter. Bradford was also a member of Texas native Coleman's pioneering quartet from 1961-63, replacing trumpet great Don Cherry (Dusted magazine calls the Bradford/Carter collaboration "one of the most important pairings since Ornette and Cherry").

Called "one of the most melodic improvisers in free jazz" in the liner notes of the 1996 Carter and Bradford CD, "Tandem 1," "Bradford's playing references blues, manipulates textures, springs from the unexpected and moves easily from virtuosity to understatement," according to the respected Web site,

The shape of jazz to come

The impressive lineup of the 2005 Burlington Discover Jazz Festival, announced last week, should be music to the ears of area jazz fans.

The 10-day soiree kicks off in style on Friday, June 3 at the Flynn Center with the Madeleine Peyroux Quartet, featuring the Billie Holiday-like chanteuse who's currently riding a sizable wave of critical acclaim for her gorgeous 2004 CD, "Endless Love." The disc has been a consistent best-seller at Buch Spieler Music in Montpelier thanks to heavy airplay by The Point.

The show will be Peyroux's first performance in Burlington since her fantastic Queen City debut a decade ago in the intimate confines of Club Metronome.

Opening up the show is the dynamic jazz-grass duo of Monkton mandolin maestro Jamie Masefield and Northfield guitar great Doug Perkins.

Closing things out with a decided bang on Sunday, June 12 will be the world debut of Trio!, a triple threat threesome of banjo phenom Bela Fleck, bass master Stanley Clarke and violin virtuoso Jean-Luc Ponty.

Other highlights of the fest include the return of jazz piano heavyweight McCoy Tyner – who wowed the Flynn crowd at the 1997 festival – and his trio on Saturday, June 11; a "Saxophone Summit" with Michael Brecker, Joe Lovano and Dave Liebman on Friday, June 10; and the dance-inducing double bill of Buckwheat Zydeco and the ReBirth Brass Band Thursday, June 9 at the "Bayou Blues Tent" at Waterfront Park that's guaranteed to get the good times rollin'.

Also not to be missed at Waterfront Park is the Sunday, June 12 Gospel Tent offering of the mostly Vermont-based Bluegrass Gospel Project. Soulful Ludlow singer Sandra Wright, backed by blues guitarist Kip Meaker and his trio, kicks things off at noon.

Tickets for all events are now on sale; call 863-5966 or go online to: or to:

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