There are not many clarinet and cornet duos out there, whether jazz or free jazz. John Carter and Bobby Bradford's association ran for a few decades, yet the two Tandem CDs were the first releases to document them as an unaccompanied duo. Tandem 1 features almost all of a concert performed on April 30, 1982, in Worcester, MA; due to time limitations, the last two pieces from this concert were included at the end of Tandem 2, released a few months later. The sound quality is mostly good, although some portions of the tape suffer from distortion and print-through, rendering "Woodman's Hall Blues" a little difficult to listen to during the clarinetist's most furious lines. Of the eight pieces included here, six were written by Carter, including his two clarinet solos "Angles" and "Echoes From Rudolph's." Bradford contributed one piece and a cornet solo ("Portrait of J.B.G."). All are in the purest free jazz tradition, structured around heads with many occasions to move outside of the score -- in short, a form of writing very similar to Steve Lacy (to pick another horn player), something particularly obvious in Bradford's pieces. The cornetist solos melodiously and, apart from his inventive use of mutes, eschews extended techniques. Carter resorts more to circular breathing and split tones, but the melody always remains the main focus of these pieces. Tandem 1 rights a wrong in both musicians' discographies and is more enjoyable overall, at least in sound quality, than Tandem 2.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture