Geof Bradfield

Saxophonist/composer Geof Bradfield enlisted his longtime employer, pianist Ryan Cohan, to play in his suite honoring Melba Liston. She was one of the first African-American women to make her name as a jazz instrumentalist (trombone) and arranger, associated over four decades with pianist Randy Weston, among many other projects. (Weston himself rightly praises Bradfield’s work.) Bradfield tells Liston’s story in musical movements, stylistically ranging from the invocational opening “Kansas City Child” through the Afro-Cuban tinged “Dizzy Gillespie” (featuring strong trumpet work by Victor Garcia) and the closing “Let Me Not Lose My Dream” (with touching vocals by guest Maggie Burrell). “Randy Weston” honors the Afrocentric pianist, while the two-part “Detroit/Kingston” refers to Liston’s Motown and Jamaican work, with subtle guitar by Jeff Parker. Bradfield’s own playing throughout is perhaps surpassed only by his creative, intelligent writing.