The Squid's Ear Magazine

Bradford, Bobby / Tom Heasley / Ken Rosser: Varistar (Full Bleed Music)

1999 recordings from the trio of cornetist Bobby Bradford, Tuba player Tom Heasley and guitarist Ken Rosser, bridging chamber and free jazz with a unique orchestration.

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product information:

UPC: 711574664023

Label: Full Bleed Music
Catalog ID: FMB002
Squidco Product Code: 13169

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2009
Country: USA
Packaging: Jewel Tray
Recorded by Wayne Peet on April 9, 1999. Mixed and mastered by Scott Fraser and Tom Heasley April-May, 2009.


Bobby Bradford-cornet

Tom Heasley-tuba

Ken Rosser-guitar, effects

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Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"Ten years after it was recorded, this music is finally released, and with reason: the trio, with Bobby Bradford on cornet, Tom Heasley on tuba and Ken Rosser on guitar, brings not only an unusual line-up, but their music finds a perfect balance between tunes rooted in jazz composition, chamber jazz, and avant-garde explorations, and the album evolves in that direction, starting with abstract music, improvising with high intervallic jumps, with Rosser's guitar sounding like a jazz guitar, and the tuba acting as a bass and solo instrument simultaneously, while at the end the electronics and the atmospheric soundscapes start building the background for Bradford's more melancholy lines that evolve not too far from a singe tonal center, and the tuba ads warm depth to the slow flow, while the guitar has more Rypdalesque rock-influences.

Bradford of course has a long standing in free jazz, having worked with Ornette Coleman, John Carter, and David Murray amongst many others, and with quite an impressive list of own albums, especially qualitatively, but this album is something else. It doesn't swing and it's not bluesy or soulful, but at the same time it does and it is. There are some moments of drama ("Ohio"), but also of fun and playfulness ("Crooked March"), a long sad blues ("Not Forgotten") with acoustic guitar accompaniment, but then the album changes with "Practically Sensible" acting as the pivoting point, the structure becomes more lose, the tones longer, the intervals shorter, yet it all remains quite intense and closely-knit in terms of interaction. It is quite difficult to describe the music, because it's so full of paradoxes and contradictions, it's accessible and not quite, it's varied yet focused. This may have been the reason why it took ten years to be released, but what a pleasure that it finally happened. Some of the pieces are at times a little too lengthy, but otherwise, quite a treat."-Stef, FreeJazzStef

Get additional information at Freejazz-Stef @ Blogspot

Artist Biographies

"Bobby Lee Bradford (born July 19, 1934) is an American jazz trumpeter, cornetist, bandleader, and composer. He is noted for his work with Ornette Coleman. In October 2009, Bradford became the second recipient of the Festival of New Trumpet Music's Award of Recognition.

Bobby Lee Bradford's life begins in Mississippi, he and his family then moved to Dallas, Texas, in 1946. He moved to Los Angeles, California in 1953 where he reunited with Ornette Coleman, whom he had previously known in Texas. Bradford subsequently joined Coleman's ensemble, but was drafted into the U.S. Air Force and replaced by Don Cherry.

After playing in military bands from late 1954 to late 1958, he rejoined Coleman's quartet from 1961 to 1963, which infrequently performed in public, but was indeed recorded under Coleman's Atlantic contract. Quite unfortunately, these tapes were among those many destroyed in the Great Atlantic Vault Fire. Freddie Hubbard acted as Bradford's replacement upon his departure to return to the West Coast and pursue further studies. Bradford soon began a long-running and relatively well-documented association with the clarinetist John Carter, a pairing that brought both increased exposure at international festivals (though the records remain scantily available, when one excludes web rips and bootlegs). Following Carter's death in 1991, Bradford fronted his own ensemble known as The Mo'tet, with which he has continued to perform since. He is the father of drummer Dennis Bradford. He is also the father of jazz vocalist Carmen Bradford.

He holds a B.M. degree from Huston-Tillotson College (now Huston-Tillotson University) in Austin, Texas.

In addition to Coleman, Bradford has performed with Eric Dolphy, Leon "Ndugu" Chancler, Ingebrigt Hker-Flaten, Bob Stewart, Charlie Haden, George Lewis (trmbn.), James Newton, Frode Gjerstad, Vinny Golia, Paal Nilssen-Love, and David Murray, who was previously a student of his in the 1970s.

He is an instructor at Pasadena City College in Pasadena, California, and Pomona College in Claremont, California, where he teaches The History of Jazz, known to be one of the most popular classes available."

-Wikipedia (

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Track Listing:

1. Delicious Red 11:09

2. Ohio 10:18

3. Crooked March 3:21

4. Not Forgotten 9:22

5. Practically Sensible 11:21

6. Varistar 14:16

7. Elegy for John Carter 9:07

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
West Coast/Pacific US Jazz
Trio Recordings
Chamber Jazz

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