[translated from Polish] Melba Liston (1926-1999) is one of the icons of American jazz. Composer and arranger since the early 1960s, she collaborated with many including Randy Weston, Dexter Gordon, Dizzy Gillespie (Dizzy Gillespie at Newport
), Art Blakey and Charles Mingus (the famous album The Complete Town Hall Concert
). Despite the enormous contribution to the sound of countless jazz standards, she always remained in the shadows giving way to the big stars. A tribute to this artist, the American saxophonist and composer Geof Bradfield has composed and recorded an excellent CD filled with a kind of late and fondly dedicated suite to Melba Liston.
Born in Houston (Texas), Geof Bradfield has spent time over the years in New York, Los Angeles and Washington, DC, finally settling down in 2004 in Chicago. One of the main reasons was the vibrant local jazz scene. Released in 2010, his album African Flowers
has been recognized by "The Los Angeles Times" as one of the best albums of the year, and a year later a concert in Millennium Park in Chicago amassed an eight-thousand person audience.
Before starting work on the album Melba!
, Geoff Bradfield spent weeks working on both the technique and structure of compositions of Liston. This is already Bradfield's third album released by Origin Records and it is truly a masterpiece. Bradfield harmonizes the charming, archaic structure of the songs perfectly with the modern sound at a studio in Illinois, where in September 2012 he recorded the material. Each of the instrumentalists has a specific role, which were assigned based on their appropriate attributes. Trombonist Joel Adams often refers to the characteristic manners of Melba Liston, and in parts of the piano Ryan Cohan often echoes the arrangements of Randy Weston who played with Liston many years ago. Also, the titles of individual compositions refer to different stages of the life of Melba Liston, from birth ("Kansas City Child"), through her debut in the 40's in Los Angeles ("Central Avenue"), to her collaborations (Dizzy Gillespie," "Randy Weston," "Detroit / Kingston"), until Melba triumphantly returned to the U.S. in 1979 from Jamaica, where for six years she taught music. The last of these alludes to a beautiful 11-minute ballad, "Homecoming," endearing enchanting melodies and instrumentation and showing the full arsenal that all the musicians involved in the project are equipped with.
Each part of the story is also a perfect independently functioning composition, showing the enormous creative potential of Bradfield. The improvised solos of both the leader and trumpeter Victor Garcia, guitarist Jeff Parker and the aforementioned Joel Adams (trombone) and Ryan Cohan (piano) are beautifully melodic, with almost perfect arrangements and boundless musical inventiveness. The beautiful rhythmic parts were created by Clark Sommers (bass) and George Fludasa (drums).
is a beautiful creation of delicious sounds of the story, which is a kind of jazz "epic" perceived through the prism of one of the more under appreciated artists in modern times, in whose life appeared the greatest icons of American jazz: Dizzy Gillespie, Dexter Gordon, Art Blakey, John Coltrane, Billie Holiday, Count Basie, Quincy Jones and Ray Charles.