Love's Dream

Bobby Bradford

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Love's Dream Review

by François Couture

Three of the six tracks included on Love's Dream first came out on a 1974 Emanem LP. Another one ("She," previously known as Bradford's classic "Woman") appeared on another LP in 1976. The second "Coming On" and "HM Louis I" are previously unissued. All six of them were recorded live on two consecutive nights of November 1973 at Chat Qui PĂȘche, in Paris. This quartet (Bobby Bradford, alto saxophonist Trevor Watts, bassist Kent Carter, and drummer John Stevens) was active for a few months that year, while Bradford made an extended stay in Europe. Forget the fact that Watts and Stevens were clawing away at the very frontiers of jazz with the Spontaneous Music Ensemble at the time. Here they fit Bradford's free jazz vision like a glove. The drummer swings a mean ride cymbal, displaying the energy of a young(er) Han Bennink without resorting to theatrics. Watts plays convincing unison lines with the leader and throws in his share of inspired solos (his extended one in "Love's Dream" is a delight). Carter is perfectly himself: elegant and discreet, except in the first "Coming On" and at the beginning of "HM Louis I" where he gets a nice feature. As for the cornetist, he comes through as a frantic Satchmo-like character, his fast strings of notes propelling the music as much as the drummer's beats. "HM Louis I" makes an attempt at a free-form intro after the bassist's solo, but it feels uncomfortable -- strangely, Stevens doesn't seem to be able to decide if he should stick to jazz or grab the opportunity and run with it. Everything else is rather straightforward free jazz. "She" starts with a rather feeble three-voice drone (with Watts on soprano sax and Stevens on cornet) but develops into a very original statement of the theme, Carter playing some beautiful arco counterpoint, and ends up providing the highlight of the set.

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