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Wednesday, Apr 9 1997
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Bobby Bradford
Even though L.A. trumpeter Bobby Bradford swings with his own brand of lyrical fire, his connection to Ornette Coleman cannot be overstated. In fact, along with Don Cherry, Bradford was one of Coleman's top brass sidekicks of choice in the '50s and '60s. And years before Coleman rocked the conventions of hard bop with The Shape of Jazz to Come and Free Jazz, the musician had played an integral part in Coleman's groundbreaking development of "harmolodics."

Fundamentally, harmolodic theory stresses rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic fluidity by each member of an ensemble's "rhythm section" during any soloist's step to the fore. As a rule, harmolodics calls for collaborative flexibility as the key to unit cohesion, which is a far cry from having bop's dominant horn player blowing over invariable chord changes.

Beyond sharing the bandstand with Bradford during an infamous but unrecorded string of shows from 1961 to 1963, Coleman introduced him to clarinet master John Carter. Their subsequent union produced a number of excellent recordings (unsurprisingly influenced by harmolodics) in a lifelong partnership that thrived until Carter's passing a few years back. Joined by bassist Bill Douglas, pianist/keyboardist Don Preston (of Zappa fame), and clarinetist Ben Goldberg (whose own incisive approach to improv matches Bradford's), this combo should yield one of the highlights of the season.

-- Sam Prestianni

Bobby Bradford appears on Sunday, April 13, for two sets at 8 and 9 p.m. at Beanbender's, 2295 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. Tickets are $10; call 621-1967.

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Sam Prestianni

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