John Carter & Bobby Bradford
Among the 22 tracks compiled on the three-CD collection JOHN CARTER & BOBBY BRADFORD (Mosaic Select), 10 were released four decades ago by an obscure jazz label and the other 12 were unknown until now. Odds are you’ve never heard any of this astounding music before. In the middle of the last century, Carter and Bradford, who traveled in similar Texas jazz circles, were drawn to the same brilliant flame: the pioneering Fort Worth saxophonist Ornette Coleman. Carter, who played a number of instruments, jammed with Coleman in the late forties; trumpeter Bradford met Coleman in Dallas and later gigged with him in Los Angeles. When Carter also showed up in L.A., the two men quickly found each other. The spacious sound of Coleman’s early albums (Bradford nearly appeared on Coleman’s debut) looms large on the earlier sessions compiled here, which date from 1969 to 1972. The performances are by turns playful and disjointed, mournful and haunting. Like Coleman’s compositions, the tunes offer no chord changes to hang on to, though perhaps because of Carter’s formal training, the music feels more melodic and thematically tethered. Bradford plays full-bodied, Miles Davis–style trumpet runs, while Carter, who was best known in his later years for his clarinet work, reveals himself to be a fiery, impassioned saxophonist. The previously unreleased 1979 duet sessions, which make up the set’s third disc, are equally absorbing, if a bit more challenging. But for fans of modern jazz, everything here qualifies as a major find.