Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Composers of the West Coast School - from "Modern Jazz" by Morgan and Horricks

© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

In a passing conversation with Gordon Jack, author of Fifties Jazz Talk: An Oral Retrospective and numerous essays for JazzJournal, I mentioned that I was in the process of putting together a three-part feature on Alun Morgan and Raymond Horrick’s Modern Jazz: A Survey Of Developments Since 1939.

He kindly sent along the following obituary that he wrote upon the passing of Raymond Horrick in 2005.

I thought it might be an interesting lead-in to this third and concluding part of the feature on the Morgan/Horrick collaboration on Modern Jazz as an indication, in the case of Horrick, of what excellent credentials were at work in the preparation of this book.


Raymond Horricks was born on the 20th. April 1933 and was educated at the Xaverian College in Manchester. He was fluent in French and later studied for three years at the Sorbonne in Paris paying his way there as a waiter and a street sweeper.

He met Charlie Parker at the 1949 Paris Jazz Fair and returned to the city a few years later with Alun Morgan for the 1954 Jazz Fair, which featured Jonah Jones, Thelonious Monk and Gerry Mulligan. Two years later he collaborated with Alun on the book, Modern Jazz: A Survey Of Developments Since 1939.

In 1955 he joined Decca, where he worked for Peter Gammond who became a lifelong friend and it was thanks to Peter that he began writing sleevenotes for the Vogue Record Label. While with Decca he produced a number of recording sessions for Ted Heath many of which like The Creep, Siboney, Cloudburst, Malaguena and the Swingin’
Shepherd Blues became extremely popular. The latter, with an arrangement by Ken Moule became the band’s biggest hit reaching number 3 in the hit parade of 1958. He also produced Ebb Tide for Frank Chacksfield and Strawberry Fair and Pop Goes The Weasel for Anthony Newley.

Other artists that he worked with included Stanley Black, Mantovani, Edmundo Ross and Sir Thomas Beecham. He didn’t neglect his first love and over the years produced many jazz records for Alan Clare, Victor Feldman, Tony Kinsey, Bill Le Sage and Don Rendell. One of his very best albums featured Ronnie Ross and Alan Ganley with The Jazzmakers which has long been out of print but is now available again on Collectables.

In 1962 he transferred to the Pye label and had further hits with Johnny Keating’s Theme From Z Cars and Joe Brown’s A Picture Of You which became Number 1 in July 1962.

That year he produced Frank Sinatra’s Great Songs From Great Britain arranged by Robert Farnon on Reprise, and the following year he was in the control booth again for Sammy Davis Salutes The London Palladium also on Reprise.

He wrote extensively for magazines like Crescendo, Jazz Journal and Jazz Monthly and his books include works on Stephane Grappelli, Quincy Jones, Gil Evans, Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Gerry Mulligan – with a complete discography of commercial and private recordings included in the latter.

Ray’s interests ranged far beyond jazz because in recent years he also published books on Cardinal Richelieu, Sir Christopher Wren and
Napoleon’s, Marshal Ney.

On the 5th. March 2005 Raymond Horricks suffered a fatal heart attack at his home on the Isle Of Wight. He is survived by his ex-wife Sheila and his daughter Gabrielle whose Godfather was Ray’s old friend, the late Britt Woodman.

- Gordon Jack        

“IT BECAME OBVIOUS at an early stage in its history that West Coast jazz was to fall under the influence of composers and arrangers to a greater extent than almost any comparable school. Bearing in mind the personalities who helped to found and further the growth this was not surprising. Both Shorty Rogers and Jimmy Giuffre had reputations as writers long before the beginnings of The Lighthouse gatherings. Rogers had commenced his arranging career with the first Herman Herd when he played in a trumpet section with such men as Neal Hefti, Pete Candoli and the late Sonny Herman. Giuffre gained prominence with a later Herman band when his Four Brothers score set a new style for sax. section voicings. It is no exaggeration to say that Giuffre's conception of a reed team with a tenor lead was the first real contribution in this direction since the overwhelming influence of the clarinet-led reeds of the Glenn Miller Orchestra.

Rogers' style of writing became evident with his contribution to the Woody Herman and Stan Kenton libraries. Keen and Peachy, the original backing-on record to Woody's Four "brothers, reveals a fast, driving ensemble with the accent placed very firmly upon the swing and power of this singular band. The later More Moon, Keeper of the Flame and Tha's Right for the Capitol label some eighteen months afterwards contain the same basic elements. With the experience of Duke Ellington before him, Shorty had written for a definite group of musicians with their personalities and capabilities in mind. Similarly, when he wrote Jolly Rogers, Round Robin and, in particular, Art Pepper for the Kenton Orchestra the finished products were evidently designed for the performers.

Giuffre's first, and for some years his only successful composition was Four Brothers, which he wrote in 1947. This has been the fundamental difference between Giuffre and Rogers. With his solitary work Giuffre had created a minor revolution in big-band circles which has lasted for many years, while on the other hand Shorty merely produced a succession of good vehicles for the newer swing bands. When the establishment of the new Pacific Coast school became a fact it was Rogers who was responsible for the quantity production of compositions and arrangements, works invariably commissioned for particular recording sessions by particular bands.

Giuffre's output lagged behind by comparison and the scores he produced fell into three main categories. Firstly, the straightforward numbers which could be, and often were, interpreted by more than one band. Into this first division may be placed Four More, Four Others, Four Mothers, Pesky Serpent, Indian Club, Out of Somewhere and Safari. Secondly, the light-hearted excursions into the rhythm-and-blues field, notably Big Girl and Big Boy, which Jimmy's own slap-tongued, dirty-toned tenor played so well on record. Thirdly, the more serious compositions in which Giuffre became the controlling mind with the chosen musicians employed solely to interpret the composer's score. On record examples of this third subdivision of talent will be found in Fugue (Contemporary Shelly Manne Album No. 1), Alternation (Shelly Manne Album No. 2) and Sultana (Capitol album under Giuffre's own name). In addition, his longer composition Evolution was performed at Carnegie Hall during 1954.

In these later writings Giuffre has aimed at the atonal approach, that is where each instrumentalist is provided with a predetermined line. The resultant counterpoint gives the composition its harmonic content by virtue of the interweaving lines. Undoubtedly Giuffre's skill as a student has placed him above the vast majority of the remaining West Coasters, but on hearing some of his more advanced writings the inevitable question arises, is it jazz? His work should never be belittled, for he is not content to fall into line with the general trend of progress, it is simply that his experiments have taken him to the limit and sometimes beyond the confines of jazz as such.

If Giuffre could be introvert in his musical concepts then Rogers became the almost complete antithesis. With a small or large group under his leadership he can make stimulating, foot-tapping jazz which comes near to transcending the artificially created barriers between styles. The first true West Coast album of any importance was issued under the name of Shorty Rogers' Giants (Capitol) and forms an accurate picture of the earlier Lighthouse sounds. It will be noted immediately that despite the scored-in sections the group swings on all six tracks. The voicing of the instrumentation (trumpet, tenor, alto, French horn, tuba and rhythm) is not unlike the sound produced by the 1948/49 Miles Davis band, but here the resemblance ends. There are no attempts to create the fresh, inventive music of the East Coast group; the Giants are content to play swinging jazz with the soloists predominating in importance over the ensemble.

An aspect of this record, and one which was to diminish rather than increase on subsequent Hollywood sessions, is the feeling of happiness and carefree abandon, particularly in the leader's playing. Few soloists of this school have managed to sound so completely at ease as did Shorty Rogers and Art Pepper on that Capitol session. Some consciously-contrived improvisations lead to stultifying solos in which the last elements of swing have been removed as if by a vampire. Fortunately the leading soloists have recognized the vital importance of a beat to jazz and it would be unfair to level any criticism on this score against all the West Coasters.

Shorty's work packing the biggest punch in more than one sense of the term will be found on his first big-band Cool and Crazy LP for Victor, recorded in 1953. His writing for the various sections of the band, in particular the brass, was always masterly and the eight big-band scores saw the fruition of his experiments in this direction. The precise section work brings to mind the impact associated with Kenton's more lively bands and a perusal of Shorty's personnel reveals a generous helping of ex-Kentonites. The success of the hard-blown trumpets is due to the tireless energy of Maynard Ferguson who occupies the position of section leader. His previous playing was too often of an exhibitionist nature, but with Shorty's studio band it is evident that his true worth has been discovered. Sometimes playing with his fellows, sometimes a complete octave above, his power and accuracy stimulates the gathering into playing with a fire which is all too often missing on other sessions. In addition, the never-flagging drive of Shelly Manne's drums pushes the entire band in a far better manner than Shelly had done with either Herman or Kenton. It was unfortunate that when Shorty Rogers was given the opportunity of recording an album tribute to Count Basie some of the earlier zest was notable by its absence.

Rogers turned to Latin-styled rhythms for inspiration on several occasions, never once without a large degree of success. His earlier Viva Zapata (Contemporary) pointed the way towards the later La Mucura, Chiquito Loco, Mambo Del Crow, etc., stimulating exercises deriving much of their success from Marine's competent and authentic drumming effects.

Most of Shorty's work is immediately identifiable on record not only by its instrumental voicing but also by virtue of the fact that the majority of the compositions are designed for medium or fast tempos. In the earlier days of the West Coast movement it was unusual to hear any Rogers works at slow tempo and the first breakaway from this convention was the Afrodesia feature for Bud Shank with Shelly Manne (Contemporary). Later examples of Rogers’ ballads include Bunny and Pirouette (Victor Giants album), Lotus Bud and Jasmine (Bud Shank Nocturne LP). His simple, swinging figures have assumed a character of their own exemplified not only by his Swing Shift, Short Stop, Morpo and many others but also evident in the arrangements he wrote for the Dave Pell Octet sessions for the Trend label.

His sallies into the wider field of experimentalism have been fewer than Giuffre's although his Shapes, Motions, Colours for Shelly Marine's second Contemporary LP reflects an enquiring musical mind. Before leaving the music of Rogers and Giuffre one final recorded example should be mentioned. It is the album recorded in September 1954, under the self-explanatory title "The Three", for Lester Koenig's Contemporary label. Here the basic elements of West Coast jazz were assembled and given carte blanche choice of music. There is no better proof that as far as these three important founders are concerned, Jazz on the West Coast has run its course, for the music in this album is a far cry from the earlier experiments. Were it not for the known sincerity of all three the album might well be dismissed as pretentious, for the us of such devices as the whole tone scale on Three on a Row revives unpleasant memories of Kenton's fall from grace. As it is, "The Three" give a clear indication that the West Coast movement has passed the highest point of its trajectory and is in danger of falling into a morass of sterility and ostentation.

The third composer-arranger is not a true member of the new West Coast school although his influence, first in Hollywood and later throughout the jazz world has been lasting. Gerry Mulligan came West in the early part of 1952 after being an important member of the New York jazz circles for some years. Apart from his work with the Miles Davis band he had arranged for and played with the orchestras of Elliot Lawrence, Claude Thornhill and Jerry Wald and had taken part on several small-band recording sessions. The most important of these was the date for the Prestige label in September 1951 when he assembled a group of his own choosing and recorded six of his own compositions plus a marathon blues played by Gerry, Allen Eager and the George Wallington-led rhythm section entitled Mulligan's Too.

The germ of his later piano-less Quartet idea was already taking shape in his mind when he left New York. As he wrote in his album notes to the first Mulligan Quartet LP on Pacific Jazz:

"The idea of a band without a piano is not new. The very first jazz bands did not use them; how could they? They were either marching or riding in wagons. I was first made aware of the possibilities of a piano-less rhythm section by Gale Madden, and I agreed with her wholeheartedly that to have an instrument with the tremendous capabilities of a piano reduced to the role of crutch for the horn solo was unthinkable."

With the deletion of the piano from the jazz group the bass assumed a more important role for, in addition to keeping time, it was now more than ever essential for the bass player to choose his notes with care and accuracy. In a unit with a larger instrumentation it would have been easier to gloss over the lack of harmonic guidance by scoring in some of the horns to give depth to the chord changes. Mulligan, however, elected to form a Quartet with only two front-line instruments. One of his chief reasons for the four-piece group was the original meeting between Gerry and a then little-known trumpeter named Chet Baker. Baker and Mulligan discussed the project and decided to attempt a tangible creation of their theory. Due to the original compatibility of temperament existing between the two the Quartet was a success. Gerry had chosen his men carefully and had turned the apparent limitations of the personnel into an asset by virtue of its non-restrictive and unified outlook.
The all-important bass part was handled first by Bob Whitlock and later by Carson Smith. Each brought a new standard of bass playing not only to the Quartet but to the West Coast movement. The string instrument assumed its correct role as a pivot about which the unit functioned as a complete entity. The first drummer was Chico Hamilton, whose crisp brushwork can only be qualified by the description, perfect. Larry Bunker, who followed him, was confronted with the achievements of his predecessor and rose to the occasion manfully. [Nonsense. If truth be told, Chico is lucky that he didn’t have to follow in Larry’s footsteps because he would have lost his way, rapidly.]

The front-line instrumentalists worked always in complete accord. Baker's sensitive and mellow-toned trumpet was the ideal partner to Mulligan's forceful and always swinging baritone. Less than a decade before the mere idea of a baritone saxophone sharing the honours with a trumpet would have been rejected. Harry Carney's work with Ellington was, technically, above reproach, but not even a man of Carney's efficiency on this clumsy instrument would have considered the project with any degree of seriousness. Serge Chaloff proved that the baritone was something more than just an anchor to the reed section, now Mulligan showed the world that the big horn had enormous potentialities as a solo voice.

The majority of the Quartet's library was composed of Mulligan originals and the entire book was fashioned to fit the group by Gerry's own arranging talents. The first recording session was for Richard Bock's Pacific Jazz label, a company which was to set a new standard of recording fidelity in the field of small-group jazz. A second album was cut for the Los Angeles Fantasy label and then a subsequent return to Bock for a third LP on which four titles added alto saxist Lee Konitz. Lee, of course, had worked with Gerry in the Miles Davis band, but his addition to an already perfect Quartet was nothing more than an interesting break with routine.

In February 1953 disc jockey Gene Norman hired Mulligan's unit for a further Quartet album and a Tentette LP subsequently sold to Capitol. On this latter session Gerry augmented his regular group with a second trumpet, a trombone, alto, French horn, tuba and a second baritone sax. to produce a sound reminiscent of the Davis/Capitol band. On some titles he played piano himself in a slightly fumbling George Wallington style. Although interesting and successful in themselves the Tentette titles are not as inventive or as stimulating as the Quartet recordings. A direct comparison is possible on Walkin’ Shoes,, which Mulligan made with both groups. The original version (Pacific Jazz) is delightful with intriguing hints at the harmonies due to the instrumentation which limited every chord to three notes. On the Tentette version it is possible to hear the complete progression as opposed to the veiled implications. The result is, almost inevitably, an anticlimax: the warm intimacy of the foursome has been replaced by a certain stiffness due to the presence of the accomplished but unfamiliar musicians.

With the Quartet there were few occasions when the piano would have helped, so well had the formula been conceived and applied. On notably rare exceptions to the general rules it became necessary to fill out the harmonies behind a soloist, usually trumpeter Chet Baker. On record, both Darn That Dream and My Funny Valentine (Pacific Jazz and Fantasy respectively) are helped by the addition of extra notes sung by the bassist and drummer plus Gerry's own voice during his instrumentally tacit passages. The effect is unusual, almost ethereal, and certainly in keeping with the mood of the performances.

Mulligan did not, at this time, confine his arranging to the realms of his own Quartet but found time to write for a Claude Thornhill session for the Trend label (Five Brothers, Jeru and Poor Little Rich Girl) as well as contributing Young Blood to a new LP by Stan Kenton which had the generic heading "New Concepts of Artistry in Rhythm". The latter, in particular, has shown Gerry's fine grasp of big-band scoring at a time when his musical thoughts must have been filled with the problems of his own small group. He later arranged his own Walkin' Shoes for Kenton and turned in a few more scores on standards, two of which, Crazy Rhythm and I've Got You Under My Skin were recorded by the band.

Towards the middle of 1953 Gerry suffered a number of personal setbacks, one of which placed him outside the musical scene for some months. In this interim period Chet Baker left to form his own group (and let it be said here that his best solos on record remained those to be heard with the Mulligan Quartet despite a subsequent variety of settings and surroundings under his own name). When Gerry returned to the jazz world early in 1954 he reformed his Quartet with a completely altered personnel. In place of Baker he employed valve trombonist Bob Brookmeyer while the bass and drums were handled first by Bill Anthony and Frank Isola respectively and, later, Red Mitchell in place of Anthony. It was this latter Quartet which he brought to the 3rd Paris Jazz Fair in June 1954 and it was at once noticeable that Gerry was aiming at a re-creation of his recorded success even to the extent of typing Brookmeyer to Baker's previous solos. This may be taken as the culmination of the Quartet formula, for Gerry has since expressed the desire to disband and to write for a larger group of his own. Nevertheless, the importance of the Mulligan formula cannot be over-emphasized and its effect on rhythm sections in particular has proved of lasting value.

The fourth West Coast musician of major importance has been Dave Brubeck. Brubeck's music is more esoteric than the majority of the Rogers-Giuffre-Mulligan output and his influence has extended little beyond the confines of his own musical circle. In this respect he may be considered to be the Pacific Coast equivalent of New York's Lennie Tristano. His studies at musical colleges and with the modern composer Darius Milhaud gave him a good grounding. This earlier training has been carefully emphasized by his adherents, but such a basic education is not unusual in the newer school of jazz musicians, as witness the formal education afforded to Bud Powell, Jay Jay Johnson and the late Fats Navarro.

Brubeck's success is, in retrospect, difficult to understand. His own piano playing was technically imperfect for many years and his earlier experiments were confined to a relatively limited area and audience. His close association with the Fantasy label enabled him to record with a greater freedom than might otherwise have been possible; the only conclusion to be drawn is that his quantity output on record coupled to his pleasant personality and complete musical sincerity won over a surprisingly large following. This should not be construed as meaning that none of his earlier work is of importance, for the reverse is the case. The first experiments with the Octet which contained trumpeter Dick Collins and altoist Paul Desmond produced provocative music with an obvious striving for the elusive road to progress. Dave's arrangement of The Way You Look Tonight for this group is an honest attempt at writing a jazz score which lasts for the majority of its three-minute length as opposed to the ensemble-solo sequence routine. The Octet was helped by the presence of tenorman Dave Van Kriedt, who was responsible for the scoring of Love Walked ln, September in the Rain and Let's Fall in Love as well as for the composition of Prelude and Fugue on Bop Themes, the latter containing one of the earliest attempts at writing a jazz fugue.

Financial and personnel reasons terminated the life of the Octet and the sound which was later compared with the voicing of the Miles Davis band was no more. Brubeck reorganized his musical ideas along piano-bass-drums lines and there are many representative examples of this era on Fantasy records. Not all the performances are successful, but the failures are in the minority. Brubeck's immature keyboard work at this time lacked gradation of touch and his apparent tendency to hammer home the piano, bass and drum parts on his own instrument made for distinctive, if somewhat repetitive music.

The addition of alto saxist Paul Desmond to this line-up seemed to coincide with a conscious attempt on Brubeck's part to improve his own playing. Later recorded examples give ample proof of the tremendous rapport existing between Brubeck and Desmond. The leader commences an idea, an inspirational flash, which is passed on to the horn player, who expands on it before passing the ball back into the piano court. One of the best examples of this kind will be found in the Fantasy "Jazz at Pacific College" album, where Brubeck and Desmond build convincingly and logically on the well-tried structure of Kern's All the Things You Are. The same LP contains a lovely example of Brubeck's improved solo playing as he extracts the full beauty of the melodic and harmonic qualities associated with Laura.

None of the remaining arrangers has assumed the importance of the foregoing personalities as large-scale West Coast influences. The work of Giuffre, Rogers, Mulligan and, to a lesser extent, the Brubeck coterie of musicians has been the stimulant behind the Hollywood movement to compose and arrange. Pianist Marty Paich scored You're My Thrill for the first Shelly Manne album and followed it up with his Love Walked In and I Married an Angel for Chet Baker's Columbia album. These together with the brief routines sketched out for Laura and Darn That Dream (Jazz Studio Two) are of a relatively straightforward and melodic nature. His first breakaway from convention came with his own composition Dimension in Thirds for the Shelly Manne Vol. 2 album, recorded in December 1953. In his album notes to this LP he implied that contemporary jazz writing is moving towards symphonic composition, making the pregnant statement:

"The future holds one important question: how will the jazz composer be able to integrate the sounds of Bartok, the rhythms of Stravinsky, the twelve-tone scale of Schoenberg and still maintain the most important element in jazz, to swing."

Despite these ominous words his own Paicheck for Jazz Studio Two (Decca) six months later proved to be basically a jazz composition in the true meaning of the term, and the nine musicians on the session found no difficulties in making it swing.

John Graas came to jazz via the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, Tex Beneke and Stan Kenton. His French horn was used first as an instrument to add colour to an ensemble but, due to his continual contact with Giuffre, Rogers and the other leading West Coasters, his interest in jazz has been broadened to the extent that he is now taking extemporized solos with the Hollywood groups. When he recorded an LP under his own name for the Trend label he wrote some of the material for the date, including a work with a 6/4 time signature. For Herbie Harper's second Nocturne album he arranged Julie is Her Name and Indian Summer as well as composing Bananera and 6\4 Mambo. For Jazz Studio Two he wrote Here Come the Lions and Graas Point (the latter with a fugal section at the mid-point of the composition) and arranged Do It Again.

The interest in his work for this Decca date aroused more widespread enthusiasm than any of his previous attempts at jazz writing. The immediate outcome was yet a third twelve-inch LP in the Jazz Studio series, this time devoted entirely to Graas' compositions and arrangements. His predilection for 6/4 time is again apparent here with his work 6/4 and Even.
Mulliganesque and Rogeresque are clever imitations of the two writers’ styles while My Buddy, The Charleston and 12th Street Rag comprise the standard material. The remaining excerpts from Graas own Symphony No. i in F Minor are interesting reflections of a classically-trained mind turned to jazz.

Jack Montrose, a capable tenor soloist, has written for Chet Baker (Dot's Groovy and Little Duet] as well as a more advanced piece for Shelly Manne entitled Etude de Concert. In an album of experimental works by other West Coast composers Montrose's composition comes closest to being a genuine attempt to write a longer jazz work with a recognizable form. The theme is developed extremely well and the musicians as personalities are not subjugated by the composer. Montrose has said of the work: "Etude de Concert is first and last a jazz composition. The main objective I had in mind was that it must swing."

Bill Holman, the Stan Kenton arranger, has written prolifically for West Coast small groups in a style best described as midway between Rogers and Mulligan. His originals are marked by the possession of strong melodic lines and an easy atmosphere which rarely loses sight of jazz's main characteristics. He has written for his own "Kenton Presents" album on Capitol as well as similar LPs by Frank Rosolino and Sal Salvador. His writing is closer to the established jazz form than the output of his Kenton colleague Bill Russo, whose work verges dangerously near pretentiousness. Russo was responsible for three of the tracks on Shelly Manners first LP, one of which, Sweets, was dedicated to trumpeter Harry Edison.

The remaining composers and arrangers consist of musicians who have been encouraged to write by the activities around them. Tenor saxist Bob Cooper wrote some simple but effective lines for his own Capitol album, plus a pair of more advanced works, Jazz Invention for a Howard Rumsey Lighthouse album (Contemporary) ranks as his best and most inventive work with a calm, collected feeling and a sense of good taste. Divertimento for Brass and Rhythm, written for the second Shelly Manne album, does not quite attain the previous standard. Bob Enevoldsen wrote arrangements for his own Quintet session (Nocturne) and also for pianist-vocalist Bobby Troup (Capitol). Alto saxist Lennie Niehaus has produced some extremely effective writing for his Quintet and Octet sessions (Contemporary), the most striking original being Whose Blues, which contains two choruses of collective improvisation by alto, tenor and baritone. Johnny Mandel, a New York musician and arranger of note, has been identified with the West Coast movement since he moved to the Coast. Representative examples of his California work will be found in two Chet Baker albums; You Don't Know What Love Is, Love, The Wind and I Love You for the Columbia session with strings and Tommyhawk for a Pacific Jazz date.

In evaluating the West Coast scene, its music and musicians, an abundance of inventiveness and technique is immediately apparent. Never before has the jazz world experienced such large-scale enthusiasm over the written part or such a variety of attempts to further the path of progress. In themselves the experiments are rarely without some interest, but all too often the importance of the basic jazz essentials has been ignored either intentionally or unintentionally in the search for new ideas. The true development of the jazz idiom does not rest in the hands of the Hollywood musicians.”

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