Saxophonist and Composer Geof Bradfield Announces the Release of his New Album Yes, and…Music For Nine Improvisers

Due Out June 15, 2018, Delmark Records

Featuring Geof Bradfield (tenor and soprano saxophone, bass clarinet), Greg Ward (alto saxophone), Anna Webber (flute, bass flute, tenor saxophone), Russ Johnson & Marquis Hill (trumpets), Joel Adams (trombone), Scott Hesse (guitar), Clark Sommers (bass) & Dana Hall (drums/percussion)

Delmark Records is proud to announce the June 15th release of renowned composer and saxophonist Geof Bradfield’s seventh album as a leader Yes, and… Music For Nine Improvisers. On his Delmark debut, Bradfield brings together a stellar ensemble of nine world-class musicians to present an extended suite constructed in the spirit of the legendary improvisational cabaret revue the Compass Players. Yes, and…, which is commissioned by Chamber Music America’s New Jazz Works through the support of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, will be presented in Bradfield’s home of Chicago at Constellation on June 30th and at the Chicago Jazz Festival on August 30th.

Yes, and… takes its name from an improvisational theater game often implemented by the iconic Compass Players. Founded in 1955 in Chicago, the Compass Players were one of the nations first improv theater groups. Radical for its time, the group mainly presented satirical and smart short pieces that were based on a specific framework, or set up, but totally improvised. The Compass Players, and it’s immediate successor Second City, have shaped the comedic landscape in the US perhaps more than any other comedy troupe.

“‘Yes, and . . .’ requires you to believe that what you improvise is building on whatever everyone else is doing – even if the response is ‘Yes, and here’s my contrasting response to that.’ I want to see people making some decisions,” says Bradfield, adding, “that’s what jazz is; that’s how my favorite players approach music. There’s this high level of interactivity that requires constant focus and attention and a depth of shared knowledge” – just as the Compass Players built their sketches from a common pool of references and a common commitment to working completely in the moment. Their improvisational principles, along with the structure of their practice techniques and performances, heavily influenced Bradfield as he composed the music for this project.

In Compass productions, longer, more complex set pieces alternated with the unwritten skits. Accordingly, the album comprises several movements for the entire nonet – “In Flux,” “Impossible Charms,” “Anamneses,” and “Forro Hermeto” – and the interstitial trios that precede them. The longer, more structured pieces benefit from Bradfield’s skills as an arranger with a marvelous ear for color and melody, but they still allow for the soloists to roam within their confines; the shorter pieces, each for a different trio, generally have less preliminary material, and thus provide the flexibility of the original Compass skits.

Yes, and… aptly demonstrates the musical prowess of the assembled musicians as well. Stand out tracks include “Anamneses”, a composition specifically tailored to showcase the trumpet work of Russ Johnson and the intimate, conspiratorial bass flute of Anna Webber. While “Impossible Charms” displays the unmistakable swing of trumpeter Marquis Hill and the throaty tone of trombonist Joel Adams which undergirds most of the ensemble work, “In Flux” clears space for the fluid guitar of Scott Hesse and the potent alto of Greg Ward. “Prelude” exhibits the work of the stand-alone trio Bradfield co-leads with longtime musical partners Clark Sommers and Dana Hall. The acclaimed saxophonist and composer sees “Forro Hermeto”, the concluding movement, as a sort of “dance party, where a couple dances at a time” – the soloists – head to the middle of the floor and strut their moves. Inspired by the unique folkloric jazz of the Brazilian genius Hermeto Pascoal, it inhabits a different milieu from the rest of this music. Collectively, Yes, and…Music For Nine Improvisers has provided the ideal platform for Bradfield to utilise the compass points of another era and another art form to send himself on an entirely new journey.

Press release contains liners notes written by Neil Tesser.

Born in Houston, TX, saxophonist and composer Geof Bradfield has shared the stage throughout North America, Europe, Russia, Asia, Africa and the Middle East with jazz luminaries such as Randy Weston, Carl Allen, Brian Blade, Rodney Whitaker, Etienne Charles, Joe Locke, and Orrin Evans. He also performs and records regularly with fellow Chicago artists including Dana Hall, Clark Sommers, Jeff Parker, Matt Ulery, Marquis Hill, and Ryan Cohan, to name a few. His work is featured on 50+ CDs, including six albums as a leader that have garnered critical accolades from the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Downbeat, the Chicago Tribune and NPR. Bradfield has been recognized in Downbeat Critics Polls as a Rising Star Tenor Saxophonist and Arranger. His previous CD Birdhoused, which garnered a 4 ½ star review from Downbeat, was recorded live in Chicago at the legendary Green Mill jazz club and released on the Cellar Live in 2017. A committed educator, Bradfield is Associate Professor of Jazz Studies at Northern Illinois University and has given master classes and lectures at the Brubeck Institute, the Manhattan School of Music, the Jazz Education Network conference, and numerous other national and international venues.
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