A Cloud of Red Dust
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It's been a long time since a vibraphonist made anything like a splash in jazz. But Stefon Harris is going to change all that. He initially drew acclaim as a member of tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson's touring unit, and then provided unexpected depth to Charlie Hunter's group, Pound for Pound. Harris's own debut is marked by slack time signatures that thinly veil Cuban rhythmic underpinnings, clearing lots of space for his own warm solos. Harris likes to emphasize particular ranges on the vibes, hanging in the low end for a rolling few bars before taking off with his mallets, moving them fast enough to create a bumpy blur. Pianist Mulgrew Miller makes a fine showing with Harris's tunes, often staking out a more harmonically exploratory realm. Harris digs subtlety as well, reaching back to Milt Jackson's bag for some of his shadings and nuances. This is a promising, strong session. --Andrew Bartlett