Geof Bradfield: Melba!

The Melba of the title is Liston, a trombonist, composer and arranger who built a formidable reputation in a mostly male world both as a leader and in her arranging and playing with Gerald Wilson, Dizzy Gillespie, Dexter Gordon, Art Blakey, Count Basie and, especially, beginning in the late ’50s, Randy Weston. Weston gives saxophonist and clarinetist Bradfield his blessing in the album’s liner notes, and the acclaim is deserved. Melba!‘s Bradfield-composed pieces each reflect a different era or aspect of Liston’s career-one each named for Diz and Weston, others for cities in which she toiled-and Bradfield and a sympathetic group expound on each theme with élan and intelligence, paying particular respect to Liston’s arranging skills. “Homecoming,” the 11-plus-minute centerpiece, unfolds deliberately and determinedly, trombonist Joel Adams and Bradfield filling its space with noteworthy solos. Also working hard are guitarist Jeff Parker, drummer George Fludas and pianist Ryan Cohan.