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Kirk Lightsey: The Nights of Bradley’s

This previously unissued set from 1985 features Lightsey accompanied by the stalwart bassist Rufus Reid. Beautifully engineered, the recording captures one of Lightsey’s frequent engagements at Bradley Cunningham’s Greenwich Village music haven of blessed memory. The club’s ambiance, including audience and cash register, is a discreet aspect of the sound. Lightsey peaks early in the CD in passionate performances of Wayne Shorter’s “Speak No Evil” and George Cables’ “I Told You So,” and maintains the high level in an hour-long exploration of seven pieces. In vigorous choruses on a fast “Giant Steps,” Lightsey develops pointillist right-hand lines, and on a relaxed “A Time for Love” he creates a lyrical mood and sustains it for more than 10 minutes.

Reid stands out in his arco exposition of the melody of Benny Golson’s “From Dream to Dream.” Whether he is playing straight time or interweaving ideas, he gives the pianist impeccable support throughout the album. Reid has a superb pizzicato solo on Dave Brubeck’s “In Your Own Sweet Way.” Playing the piano that Brubeck’s partner Paul Desmond willed to Bradley’s, Lightsey exploits the song’s brighter possibilities. He wraps things up with an ultrafast, “Oleo” demonstrating technique in the service of ideas.

The Nights of Bradley’s is a fine addition to Lightsey’s impressive series of Sunnyside recordings.

Originally Published