Stefon Harris: Takes me to heaven on a cloud of Kindred beauty.
Nothing nothing nothing in the world has the effect on the psyche that music has. There is a certain kind of access to the internal machinations that lead to the outermost void of our deepest self that music stretches toward with a warm safe hand. I find no matter what mood I am in, music will sooth, heal or cure me. It’s restorative power is only outweighed by its intellectual complexities. I’m SMARTER when I listen to great music.
But it has to be great. For the corollary is also true – I seem to get dumber if I pour dumb music into that void.
Fortunately the world has already produced enough brilliant works of muscial genius for my lifetime to be well fed. And as if that glory wasn’t enough, each day there is more – more more more – art of this nature transcending human consciousness. Thanking god right? Where would we be if all we had was rationality and consciousness. UGH!
This week (and the one forthcoming because I have some much longed for albums) has been heaven-sent. I have the most stunning music to share.
It all starts with Stefon Harris. I’ve focused on Kindred this week, but all his albums are fast making their way into my collection. Different music touches me in different ways and this stunning album, with its almost perfect production has been carrying me to a lilting groovy heaven all week. It’s difficult for me to find sharable music for this gorgeous album, so I have added a link here so you can go and hear some of the tunes i am enjoying (hyper enjoying) at the moment.
Take a look at his discussion here of his latest album:
It’s that organic feel that he is discussing above that makes his work a powerhouse in the world of jazz. The committment to the continual evolution of the work. On Kindred we get the opportunity to listen to two young jazz improvisers: Stefon Harris and Jacky Terrasson. The drumming of Terreon Gully needs to be mentioned because of the infectious nature of the playing. I got such a strong sense of his dynamism leading the group. David Adler adds this in the excellent review that is attached to the link I gave you above. He has a couple of problems with the improv – I confess I didn’t find it an issue:
” Harris and Terrasson establish their rapport in a variety of ways — playing up-tempo cat and mouse on a duo version of “What Is This Thing Called Love,” trading melodic passages on the ballad “Never Let Me Go,” and soloing simultaneously on Bud Powell‘s “John’s Abbey.” Much of this is wonderful, although at times the dialogue seems forced; the two can get bogged down in a kind of back-and-forth mimicry that renders their moves predictable. In their determination to share the spotlight, they wind up stepping on each other. That said, there is a good deal of stellar playing on the album. The up-tempo numbers — “Tank’s Tune,” Terrasson‘s “Rat Race,” and Randy Weston‘s “Little Niles” — spark furious yet uncluttered quartet interplay. Two mellower selections – Buster Williams‘ “Deja” and Harris‘ “Shané” — ripple with harmonic subtlety. Harris‘ flowing arrangement of “Summertime” features a nearly Bacharachian substitute progression on the last eight bars. Terrasson‘s bright Latin funk arrangement of “Body and Soul” omits the last A section in favor of a newly written vamp, and sounds its final clipped chord, of all places, at the end of the bridge — bold thinking. When players as gifted as Harris and Terrasson put their heads together, there are bound to be ample rewards. As a team, however, they are at their best when they don’t force the dialogue issue.”
Kindred is out through Blue Note and can be purchased anywhere good jazz is to be found. (pref your local indie)