Lots of great music coming up in the next couple months! My Roots quintet will be at Ancien Cycles Tuesday January 17th with guest alto saxophonist Nick Mazzarrella, Russ Johnson, Dana Hall and Clark Sommers playing music from Gyorgy Ligeti, Curtis Mayfield, Bird and Lead Belly, to name a few. Trumpeter Marquis Hill will rejoin the group for performances at the legendary Green Mill February 24th and 25th and then for a special live recording session at the Mill the afternoon of March 15th- details to come.

I’m also excited about the return of the collaborative band Garden of Souls (Nick M., Mike Reed, Josh Abrams, GB) at the Jazz Art Record Collective February 1st. We’ll dig deep into the music of Ornette Coleman from his classic Blue Note recordings New York is Now and Love Call. 

In between, there are performances with several of my favorite Chicago bands:   Matt Ulery’s Loom at Constellation, Dana Hall’s Black Fire at Andy’s, and Soul Message at the California Clipper, to name a few. Check out the Gig page for details, and I hope to see you out on the scene!

The Hyde Park Jazz Festival has exploded in the last few years, consistently presenting a well-curated collection of outstanding artists from around the globe alongside stellar Chicago bands, and this year is no exception. I’m especially looking forward to hearing  Randy Weston in the Rockefeller Chapel for a late night set Saturday September 24th, 11 pm. I’ll be appearing on the festival the same day with Matt Ulery’s Loom and Clark Sommers’ Ba(SH) as well as Garden of Souls, a new collaboration with Nick Mazzarrella, Mike Reed, and Josh Abrams that delves into a couple of Ornette Coleman’s classic recordings: New York is Now and Love Call. 

http://www.hydeparkjazzfestival.org/garden-of-souls

http://www.hydeparkjazzfestival.org/bash

http://www.hydeparkjazzfestival.org/matt-ulery

I’m very excited about this upcoming performance at Constellation Chicago Saturday June 11th.  The quintet will be revisiting music from our critically acclaimed 2015 Origin release Our Roots and working out some brand new material for the next one. This incarnation of the group features a stellar lineup, some of my favorite musicians anywhere: Dennis Carroll (bass) and Russ Johnson (trumpet) will  join long time bandmates Dana Hall (drums, tambourine- and yes, you do want to see that), Joel Adams (trombone) and myself. Tickets ($10) can be purchased in advance at the link below (showtime is 8:30, 2 sets) or at the door. Come out and hang!

Geof Bradfield 5 4464 4x6

http://www.constellation-chicago.com/event/1166269-geof-bradfield-russ-johnson-chicago/

 

Geof Bradfield

OUR ROOTS

4-STARS!  An offer to revisit a classic jazz album for a Chicago concert series led saxophonist Geof Bradfield to return his attention to one of his favorite records. The experience was so good it became the germ for his superb new quintet album, on which he pays homage to the legendary blues and folk singer Lead Belly via tenor man Clifford Jordan, who made a Lead Belly tribute album for Atlantic in 1965. 

Bradfield widened the scope for the project, his band tackling a pair of classics by the great Blind Willie Johnson along with a couple of Georgia Sea Island spirituals affiliated with powerhouse singer Bessie Jones. He also included three of his own tunes, each feting musicians who’ve made an impact on him: Randy Weston, Meshell Ndegeocello and Oliver Mtukudzi are expertly evoked by the melodies and feels, respectively, of “Clinton Hill,” “Meshell” and “Mbira Song.” 

As he writes in his liner notes, Bradfield aimed for arrangements and performances that were “simple and direct,” and apart from couple of complex harmonies and an odd time signature, he hits the mark. He deserves credit for refusing to take the obvious route in paying tribute to his influences, coming up with something that says much more about himself than Lead Belly or Clifford Jordan.

 

Our Roots Front Cover

Click cover to listen and buy

BY BRIAN ZIMMERMAN 
Geof Bradfield Quintet, 
Our Roots 
(Origin)
The idea for saxophonist Geof Bradfield’s intrepid new album Our Roots sprang from a concert series in Chicago called the Fulton Street Jazz Record Art Collective, in which musicians perform a classic jazz album in its entirety. Since its inception, visiting artists have covered works by all the usual suspects—John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Max Roach—but when it was Bradfield’s turn, the Houston-born saxophonist delved deeper into jazz history. His album: These Are My Roots, Clifford Jordan’s 1965 tribute to folk-blues hero Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter. When Bradfield first heard this recording on cassette in the late 1990s, he was so smitten by it that he wore the tape out. It’s easy to understand why. Jordan’s album is a beautiful marriage of past and present; it effortlessly channels the raw passion of Lead Belly’s folksy vocals while infusing the material with a modern hard-bop sensibility. Bradfield’s record accomplishes a similar feat, though with a distinctly 21st-century twist. The album consists of four of the Lead Belly songs that Jordan originally recorded—“Take This Hammer” and “Dick’s Holler” are exhilarating—as well as a handful of traditional Southern folk songs and two Blind Willie Johnson covers. Aside from a few odd-metered tunes and the occasional altered chord, Bradfield purposefully avoids the “highbrow” trappings of contemporary jazz, focusing instead on simple melodies played warmly and directly. Accompanying Bradfield on this project is the deeply empathetic unit of Marquis Hill on trumpet, Joel Adams on trombone, Clark Sommers on bass and Dana Hall on drums—a dream team of Chicago-reared jazz players. Each upholds a profound commitment to melody and groove, making this album less about the soloists and more about the spirit of the music that inspired it. By saluting Jordan and Lead Belly, Bradfield’s album shines a light on two important—if unheralded—artists in American music. It also raises the stature of another: Bradfield himself.