Geof Bradfield Quintet: Quavers

Chicago tenor saxophonist, sounding not far from Johnny Griffin, leads quintet in post-bop originals with lively, inventive solos


Tenor man Bradfield has worked with the bass and drum team here for more than 20 years, so their togetherness is hardly surprising. New additions trumpeter Johnson and guitarist Hesse fit in very well and both are, like their colleagues, good improvisors. The music is basically modern post-bop with occasional excursions into free jazz territory.

Deep Ellum, which kicks off the set, is a loping, blues-based exercise lasting almost 14 minutes – enough time for lively, inventive solos from the horns and guitar. Bradfield is a modern Chicago tenor player, not that far removed from Johnny Griffin and the early bop Chicagoans. His bluesy lines are well constructed, and he is consistently inventive.

Johnson’s trumpet provides good contrast with slurs and half valve effects and he too, can work several variations on basic themes. Guitarist Hesse plays a wrap-around style, with the help of electricity, that gives a sort of harmonic blanket effect on ensembles. His single lines are right in the tradition, even if the electric effects thicken the sound. 

Quaver is a skipping line that, after a bass and drum introduction, is reminiscent of early Ornette Coleman melodies. After the melody line is played Hesse solos against the ensemble before Bradfield slows the line down with a blues-based tenor excursion that effectively visits the treble frequency. This is a long, 15-minute track, but to their credit the quintet maintain the interest and momentum in each individual solo. Nao Faz Mio gives the band the chance to show their skills at slow tempi. It is an attractive ballad.

The first four pieces here were recorded at Green Mill, a Chicago venue, and the enthusiastic applause from the audience indicates their ability to entertain. Bradfield composed all seven selections and most are melodic but one or two standards might have helped listeners unfamiliar with this quintet. It is though, a one-hour programme of interesting, sometimes fascinating post-bop and blues.

Dave’s Intro; Deep Ellum; Quaver; Nao Faz Mal; Plucky; 5 In 3; Solid Jackson (62.00)
Bradfield (ts); Russell Johnson (t); Scott Hesse (elg); Clark Sommers (b); Dana Hall (d). Green Mill (1-4) & studio (5-7) Chicago, 23 October & 1 November 2021.
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