Our Roots

by Geof Bradfield

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On saxophonist/composer Geof Bradfield’s new CD Our Roots, which Origin Records will release on October 20, his chordless quintet delves into the sacred and profane music of the rural South. The ensemble premiered the music at the 2014 Hyde Park Jazz Festival and a few months later gave its first European performance at the Made in Chicago Festival in Poznan, Poland.

Joining Bradfield on Our Roots are trumpeter Marquis Hill (winner of the 2014 Thelonious Monk Trumpet Competition), trombonist Joel Adams, drummer Dana Hall, and bassist Clark Sommers, all long time collaborators on the vital Chicago jazz scene. Sommers, Bradfield and Hall form the freewheeling trio Ba(SH), which released its first CD on Origin in 2013. That same year, Adams and Sommers contributed to Bradfield’s critically acclaimed suite Melba! for the label. Hill and Bradfield are the frontline of Greenleaf recording artist Matt Ulery’s chamber jazz quintet, Loom.

Inspired by Clifford Jordan’s These Are My Roots: The Music of Leadbelly, Our Roots offers new interpretations of four pieces from that 1965 recording. “I first heard Clifford in person alongside Von Freeman at the Green Mill in ’91,” says Bradfield. “Though completely distinctive, they both embodied this combination of sophistication with gutbucket that defines the great Chicago tenors.” Bradfield and company summon the spirit of Jordan’s original recording, but don't necessarily adhere to the letter: the trio rendition of “Black Girl,” for example, owes as much to Albert Ayler as to Jordan, while the harmolodic conversation between trumpet and tenor on “Yellow Gal” evokes Ornette Coleman.

Alongside the Lead Belly pieces are Bradfield’s arrangements of spirituals from the Georgia Sea Islands and songs by Texas blues singer and itinerant preacher Blind Willie Johnson. Three new pieces by Bradfield round out the album. ““Meshell,” “Clinton Hill,” and “Mbira Song,” are dedicated respectively to Meshell Ndegeocello, Randy Weston, and Oliver Mtukudzi, all master musicians with the deepest roots,” writes Bradfield in the CD notes. “I’ve had the good fortune to play a little with each of them, and they all had a powerful impact on my musical thinking.”


released October 20, 2015

Geof Bradfield-tenor saxophone
Marquis Hill-trumpet
Joel Adams-trombone
Clark Sommers-bass
Dana Hall-drums, cymbals and tambourine



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Geof Bradfield Chicago, Illinois

Geof Bradfield was born in Houston. He lived in New York and LA before settling in Chicago in 2004. Along the way, he has been fortunate to work alongside many jazz luminaries throughout the US, Europe, Russia and Africa. He leads his own groups as well as performing often with Dana Hall's Black Fire, Clark Sommers Ba(SH), Matt Ulery's Loom, the Spin Quartet, and pianist Ryan Cohan. ... more

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