Reuben Bradley

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Reuben Bradley (drums)
Roger Manins (saxophone)
Miles Crayford (piano, rhodes, synth)
Mostyn Cole (bass)
Kirsten Te Rito (vocals)
James Illingworth (synth)
Tom Callwood (arco bass)

Best Jazz Album - 2010 NZ Music Awards

More than just a modern jazz album, Resonator references the jazz tradition while pursuing an array of rhythms and textures unique to Reuben's eclectic musical personality. The result is an album of rich musical diversity, where high art meets organic improvisation and eclectic contemporary grooves. This is eclectic original jazz music for the modern ear: energetic, expressive and conceptually inviting.

"The new generation of NZ jazz musicians has moved up several notches if the confident energy and conceptual awareness shown on this debut CD by Reuben Bradley's band is anything to go by."
Mike Nock

"This new album on the immaculately presented and recorded Rattle Jazz imprint proves again there is a depth of New Zealand jazz talent to be encouraged and taken to a wider audience. There is a lot of fine playing and rewarding listening on this album . . .  and something rather more challenging and therefore exciting than most other New Zealand jazz albums of the moment."
Graham Reid (Read more at Jazz in Elsewhere)


Review by Michael Flynn

By his own admission, jazz drummer Reuben Bradley was in need of some ‘serious inspiration’ musically when he set off to study in New York in 2007. There he had a series of lessons with master drummer Barry Altschul that would change his musical landscape forever. Returning to Wellington, Bradley set about composing material for Resonator. Diverse and confident, this is an album that is as rich in energy as it is in musical styles, Bradley having created an eclectic mix of improvisations and grooves. From the inviting opener, the acoustic straight-ahead Exposition, it’s apparent that this is a collaboration between some fine musicians. Joining Bradley is the highly talented Roger Manins playing some stirling tenor sax throughout, Miles Crayford on piano, Rhodes and synth, and Mostyn Cole on bass and samples. Also guesting on the album are vocalist Kirsten Te Rito, James Illingworth (synth) and Little Bushman’s Tom Callwood on double-bass. Bradley’s compositions rise and fall with rhythmic textures that intrigue and sometimes surprise. Cole’s inventive playing on the funky crossover Cassandra’s Prophecy, the wistful ballad Search in Progress and the colourful multi-layered OK Monitor are just some of the joys to be found on this tastefully packaged and well produced Rattle Jazz album of eight beautifully crafted compositions. Recorded by Richard Caigo, mixed and mastered by Mike Gibson, this is highly recommended.


Review by Graham Reid

This new album on the immaculately presented and recorded Rattle Jazz imprint proves again there is a depth of New Zealand jazz talent to be encouraged and taken to a wider audience.

Helmed by drummer Bradley -- with a core group of Roger Manins on brusque and/or melodic tenor, keyboardist Miles Crayford and Mostyn Cole on bass -- this album covers a wide swathe of Bradley's original compositions which include edgy post-bop (Exposition) and driving swing (Peoples?), soulful ballads (Search in Progress with vocalist Kirsten Te Rito) and studio experiments (the Radiohead-referencing OK Monitor with James Illingworth on synth and Te Rito).

And sometimes -- as on the mood-shifting Doppler Effect with its repeated Twilight Zone-type figure, gloomy arco bass from Tom Callwood then the shift to sprightly electric keyboard runs and sci-fi synths -- some of these elements can happen in the same piece. Elsewhere Cassandra's Prophecy opens like a slightly eerie theme to a disconcerting European movie before opening out into much more free and exploratory playing from Mannins and Crayford (driven by some exceptional playing by Bradley) before moving in another direction again.

This idea of unified pieces of separate segments and expression is a hallmark of Bradley's compositions and means they rarely settle but are constantly morphing and taking the listener on a journey. A rare skill -- and he has the players here to pull it off. There is a lot of fine playing and rewarding listening on this album . . . which ends with the wonderfully jerky/funky OK Monitor, another which bounces off into unexpected places as Bradley changes the tempo, the synths phone home from outer space, and samples and Te Rito's vocals are threaded through in the middle distance.

Yet another excellent Rattle Jazz album -- and something rather more challenging and therefore exciting than most other New Zealand jazz albums of the moment.

By Graham Reid, posted Oct 26, 2010
Click here to visit Graham Reid's Elsewhere website



Reuben Bradley talks about Resonator

Why this album? What did you want to achieve with it?
I wanted to write a body of work that would represent my current musical feelings and direction, music that would ideally serve as a vehicle for myself and other collaborators to improvise on in new ways, or at least in uncommon ways. I didn’t initially want to write a whole albums worth, but by doing so I now have a broad range of music that can be approached in many ways. Also, I want this album to stand as a testament to what I am capable of as a drummer, improviser & composer.


Why these musicians? What did they bring to the project?
All of the musicians involved are long time friends; I have played with them all in many different ensembles and knew they would be right for the job. As friends they have been supportive of the project, giving their time and fantastic musicianship freely. The core group of Miles, Mostyn, Roger and myself have done a huge amount of creative playing together in various line-ups over the last few years, playing the music recorded on Resonator and workshopping it to its current state.


Why these pieces?
Each song is based on strong rhythmic ideas that are based on some aspect of my drumming vocabulary. In other words, I have taken my percussive language and developed it to the point where it has a corresponding sense of melody and rhythm.



I wanted to write a ‘Modal Coltrane Vibe’ piece to start the album, because this is a style I love playing. The 5/4 time signature creates a looser, more open environment to stretch out on, which is contrasted by the double time 2 over 5 ‘straighter’ sections.

Peoples? (for Drew Menzies)
A great friend and inspiration, Drew was a bass player of the highest integrity, sadly he passed away in 2007. ‘Peoples?’ was a text message he would send me when he was back in town, home from living in the US. It meant, “Hey, I’m back, let’s meet up for a coffee at the café ‘Peoples Coffee’ right away”. So, this up tempo number is about the feeling of drinking way to much coffee and catching up. Also, the solo section reminds me greatly of some of Drew’s own compositions.

Cassandra’s Prophecy

My crossover piece, its almost funky! Through-composed in nature, it has a loose intro that develops into the main groove of the song, and then the main melody. The harmony and texture then change to a richer and freer section for Miles to solo over before ending unexpectedly at the intro, without going back to the main melody.

Doppler Effect
This is basically the trio playing in a loose ‘Altschul’ style, a broken feel that I find wonderful to solo in. The intro sets up a completely unrelated ‘heavy’ vibe using synthesizers and bowed bass before going to the looser head and solos.

Search in Progress
This is a ballad I wrote for a band I had called Vibrant Tongues, which was a lot of fun at the time. I always thought I should rework it and when this project came up, finding lyrics to fit seemed the right idea. Listening to it now the message seems quite vague - I like that! It's actually about my fiancée and I buying out first house and all the pressures that go with it, but at the same time seeing how lucky we are to be in a situation to do that. A lot of people sadly never get it together enough to make something like that happen.

Drink in the Swell
This is another song with several sections, initially a super frantic section for everyone to solo on, building up to a sudden stop! A dark release section follows that is brooding and dissonant - pure Andrew Hill. This is followed by a free-section that devolves down into the depths of the earth….

Wake up call
Oh man does this sound fusion-y! The intention with this song was to create a more contemporary tune then dement it as far as possible until it was far from any ‘popular’ style of music. The result is a song that is fun to play, full of many rhythmic challenges that forces the players to come up with something new to improvise with. Its thematic material was written after researching the ‘Circadian Rhythm’ and finding out that 5am is the worst time to wake up, it puts your body clock out for the whole day.


OK Monitor
I have been listening to a lot of Bob Moses and he loves to layer up rhythms in a song. Here we state the initial rhythm and then play it as a round whilst layering other textures (samples, vocals, synths, percussion) over the top. The result sounds very demonic, as demonic as it was to play in fact!


In retrospect, what are your thoughts and feelings about this album?
The music has grown and evolved since the time of recording, developing in ways that I hadn’t thought of at the time of writing. For me, this is one of the joys of playing jazz music; it needs to take on a life of its own! The feedback from audiences who hear it has been very supportive, even though the music is challenging for a general jazz audience. I love hearing my friends play my music so intuitively, and their individual interpretations on the day of recording really inspired me to play at my best. For me, the album is not only a diverse musical journey, but also an enlightening journey of what truly is in my head! Hearing the result makes me look towards the next project, and how far I can take the new musical ideas I am developing inspired from Resonator.



RAT-J-1003 (September, 2010)