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JAZZ : RETROSPECTIVE : West Coast Experimentation, ‘60s-Style : *** 1/2 JOHN CARTER & BOBBY BRADFORD QUARTET and HORACE TAPSCOTT QUINTET, “West Coast Hot”, <i> Novus</i> /<i> RCA</i>

This album, comprising two 1969 releases on Flying Dutchman Records, showcases some of the earliest recordings of three prominent Los Angeles musicians who all sought to go beyond the boundaries of traditional jazz by using experimental structures and free-form improvisation.

Four extended Carter-Bradford selections boast much of the sparse, airy sound of the early Ornette Coleman quartet. Expressive solos by the late Carter (on alto, tenor and his customaryclarinet) and trumpeter Bradford strategically dart through the open spaces in the arrangements. Additionally, the melodic motif that keeps resurfacing in “Abstractions for Three Lovers” is simply gorgeous.

The transition from the Carter-Bradford group’s graceful flow to the jabbing, staccato melody of the material on Tapscott’s “The Giant Is Awakened” is a bit jarring. These quintet performances, drawn from early recordings by the pianist-composer, mark the album debut of saxophonist Arthur Blythe, who has gone on to notoriety. Blythe then hadn’t fully developed his signature tone, but his high-flying alto solos provide a vibrant foil to both Tapscott’s rumbling piano ruminations and the edgy energy of the compositions.

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor) to five (a classic).

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