Greeting’s jazz connoisseurs, I’m back with yet another intriguing palette of creative music from some of today’s most unique, adventurous and inspiring voices known and unknown artists alike in the world of jazz.
Stefon Harris -//- African Tarantella – [BLUE NOTE, 2006]
Prior to buying this album, I was fortunate enough to hear Stefon Harris and his mallet play the music live. It was one of the best live jazz performances that I have heard lately, and the album is as good or better!
Several things stand out. First is Harris’ obvious virtuosity. I have seen Milt Jackson live and Harris doesn’t take a back seat. He plays the vibes and marimba simultaneously, and at amazing tempo. He isn’t just a virtuoso though, but a very creative arranger and improviser.
The instrumentation is very interesting: viola and cello, trombone, flute, clarinet, drums, bass and piano. This gives the album a wonderful tonal palette. The musicians are wonderful too; Terreon Gully on drums may be the best drummer that I have heard live, and I’ve been lucky enough to hear Buddy Rich, Jeff Hamilton and some of the other top drummers in jazz. Also outstanding is pianist Xavier Davis and trombonist Steve Turre.
My favorite tracks are adaptations of Duke Ellington creations: three numbers from the New Orleans Suite and two from the Queen’s Suite. I am less enamored of Harris’ compositions.
Harris is terrific as an improviser, arranger and performer. He, along with some other young jazz titans, give me comfort that jazz is still alive and vital for years to come. —Rick Loves Jazz | Amazon.com Continue reading