Melody Men: Bobby Bradford and Vinny Golia

Tradition and transition come together for a masterful display.

Tuesday, Feb. 2, was a night at the Loft that combined the work of living jazz legends in the form of the redoubtable duo of cornet master Bobby Bradford and multi-wind virtuoso Vinny Golia. The two were joined by the more ambient approach of electro-acoustic innovators Ecosono Ensemble, featuring Glen Whitehead on trumpet and laptop and Matthew Burtner on soprano saxophone and laptop.

In an unusual strategy, Golia and Bradford opened the show by immediately launching into the multiple pleasures of Golia’s swirling Bb clarinet comingling with Bradford’s tart and succinct cornet as the pair unwound the uncanny theme of “She,” a Bradford classic that witnessed each player soaring and swooping in bird-like orbits. It was a dizzying opener.

Both musicians demonstrated a singular ability to create multiple melodic layers of complimentary dialog that retained an empirical connection to the blues and essential root components even as they made news as modern as tomorrow’s headlines. When Golia manned the sopranino, Bradford countered with the plunger mute, producing gorgeous swaths of melody amid multiphonic growls.

Bradford’s humorously titled “Hello Dali” coursed along with freebop unisons as Golia toggled between soprano textures before switching the mastodon-like riffing of the bass clarinet. At the same time, both players ratcheted the tension of infinite thematic development into a glorious sense of delirium.

To close the first set, Bradford took it all back home with a rollicking vocal take on the Delta blues in “My Baby Called Katie” that featured Golia’s brawny gutbucket salutations on baritone saxophone in support of Bradford’s wicked plunger mute in an almost unbearably intimate conversation.

Whew! That might just have been the most wonderful set of the year.

The Ecosono Ensemble had the distinctly unenviable responsibility of staging a follow up. Fortunatelyfor the listener, their approach provided a completely different aesthetic, utilizing the heavily amplified sounds of nature channeled through laptop computers as the players combined real-time input of primarily long tones drenched in reverb.

One could hear the sounds of a burbling brook or the evasive tactics of moths avoiding being consumed by the radar capabilities of bats and the ambient qualities of cavern acoustics -- even the low tremor of an erupting volcano -- all wrapped together with the incremental crawl of muted trumpet and chirping soprano saxophone.

As a special encore treat, Bradford and Golia returned to the stage to blast through a wildly swinging version of “Sidesteppin’,” a Bradford original that pulsed with a natural pattern of breath, drawing gruff baritone ideas from Golia that provided a most effective lattice for Bradford to populate.

Glorious, in every possible sense of the word.

Robert Bush is a freelance jazz writer who has been exploring the San Diego improvised music scene for more than 30 years. Follow him on Twitter @robertbushjazz. Visit The World According to Rob.

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