The Nights of Bradley's

by Kirk Lightsey

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about

1 - I Told You So
2 - Speak No Evil
3 - A Time For Love
4 - Giant Steps
5 - From Dream To Dream
6 - In Your Own Sweet Way
7 - Oleo

CD Quality - 16 bit / 44.1 khz

I first went to Bradley’s in the mid-seventies. At that time I worked for IBM in France, and, during a business trip to New York, my friend Tom Migliore took me to listen to Roland Hanna and George Mraz. The place was packed, the upright piano was set against the wall facing the entrance. I could only see George’s head and bass, and could not see Roland at all. The buzz of the place was incredible, the beer was flowing, the music kept fighting with the conversations. It was surreal to see such great musicians performing in the surroundings and atmosphere of an Irish pub. After I moved to New York in 1980, Bradley’s became my second home where I spent several nights a week.
It was at Bradley’s that I first met Kirk Lightsey, he was playing with Ron Carter. Harold Danko, who had recorded the first album on my label Sunnyside, suggested during a dinner at my home that Kirk Lightsey would be perfect for the second Sunnyside album. After dessert and coffee we jumped into a cab headed for University Place, where Bradley’s was located. At the break Harold introduced me to Kirk and I asked him about recording for Sunnyside, Kirk looked at me, smiled, and said “yes, indeed!” Shortly after we went to Chip Stokes’ Penthouse Studio and recorded Lightsey1, a beautiful piano solo album.
Three years later, we recorded three nights at Bradley’s with Kirk and Rufus Reid. At the time Kirk and Rufus had been working with Dexter Gordon. During those nights it seems that every musician in town was present. I remember Cecil Taylor having a conversation with my friend Chris Coffee, a painter, telling him his admiration for Lightsey and also discussing architecture, mostly of Gaudí in Barcelona, while drinking champagne. Art Blakey was also there, coming for the third or fourth set. When the music ended at the Village Vanguard, or Sweet Basil, or Fat Tuesdays, many of the musicians would migrate to Bradley’s where the music would still be going. These were some of the many great nights of Bradley’s.
François ZalacainLive recordings capture the spontaneity of the artists, and the ambiance of the venue. There’s the down-home elegance of Ahmad Jamal’s But Not for Me: Live at the Pershing, Thelonious Monk’s At the Blackhawk, and Bill Evans’s immortal Sunday at the Village Vanguard.

Add this recording by pianist Kirk Lightsey and bassist Rufus Reid, recorded at Bradley’s in New York City in January of 1985, to that illustrious list!

The release of this recording -- the first release from three nights and over twelve hours of music -- is the first recording in this century by the Detroit-born, Paris-based Lightsey, who was the second artist ever to record for the Sunnyside label. It also features the rock-steady bass of Rufus Reid -- another Sunnyside artist -- who along with Lightsey, was a member of saxophonist Dexter Gordon’s quartet when these tracks were recorded.

Bradley’s was the cozy piano bar named for Bradley Cunningham, who arguably ran the most intimate and artists-friendly venue in Manhattan before it closed in the late ‘90s. As Russ Musto wrote in the CD’s liner notes, “[t]he music played in Bradley’s was profound and powerful as the spirit of camaraderie that prevailed among the musicians who regularly patronized the club.”

The seven tracks on this disc offer aural evidence of this dynamic duo’s swing and sensitivity. Leading off is their light, Latin-tinged reading of George Cable’s I Told You So, where Lightsey playfully drops in a quotation from Thelonious Monk’s Bemsha Swing. Their flawless, in-the-pocket rendition of Wayne Shorter’s mid ‘60s Blue Note masterpiece Speak No Evil, comes from the source: They performed with Shorter in a rare acoustic live date in Newark, NJ aired on National Public Radio. Johnny Mandel’s A Time for Love, and Dave Brubeck’s evergreen standard In Your Own Sweet Way, highlight Lightsey’s singing tone. Benny Golson’s From Dream to Dream is buoyed by Reed’s beautiful arco bass, while John Coltrane’s Giant Steps retains its breakneck post-bop structure, harmonically and thematically expanded on by the pianist and bassist. Sonny Rollins’s Oleo, the famous break tune, closes this set with the promise of more jazz to come.

It was as a member of Dexter Gordon’s quartet in the 1980’s that Lightsey finally achieved the international recognition his talent had long merited. Bassist Rufus Reid was the pianist’s rhythm section mate with drummer Eddie Gladden in the group and it was while playing with the tenor great that the two developed the mutually supportive swinging style that was clearly evident in this set. Bradley’s is where New York’s finest jazz musicians would go to seek out the comfort of the music and camaraderie of their colleagues and its demise has created a vacuum not likely to be filled any time soon. When the set is over Kirk introduces Rufus and himself and announces that they’ll be back. There is still a good deal more material that was recorded from the nights of Bradley’s with these two wonderful players, so another set would seem inevitable.

Reviews:

Here are the tales from the ultimate artists jazz club .
Ted Panken, Downbeat, March 2007

credits

released July 20, 2004

Kirk Lightsey - piano
Rufus Reid - bass

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