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Top Customer Reviews
With six Blue Note albums as a leader to his credit, Albany native Stefon Harris is one of a handful of young vibe players exploring the potential of the instrument while building upon its often underappreciated legacy.
With his most recent release, "African Tarantella....Dances with Duke" Harris re-envisions movements from two suites composed by Duke Ellington. Also included is a disc-closing trio of original compositions from his recently commissioned work entitled "The Gardner Meditations."
With his own compositions in place first, Harris embarked upon selecting the material that would round out the disc. "I picked the Ellington compositions I thought would best align with my overall concept," he notes. "In arranging the Ellington pieces I tried not to stray to far from his intentions; I wanted to make sure that I was juxtaposing my compositional sound with that of Duke's."
Opting for a chamber jazz ensemble, the group is rounded out with piano, bass, drums, clarinet, trombone, flute, viola, and cello, instead of a more traditional big band in an Ellington mold. Thus, much of the stamp that Harris places on selections from Duke's "The New Orleans Suite" and "The Queen's Suite" is to be heard through his use of the group's instrumentation.
Ellington's music is a seemingly effortless amalgam of styles which range from jazz to classical into which he also frequently incorporated touches of blues, gospel, and world music.Read more ›
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 tempi. 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 pallette. 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 enamoured 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.
This album is amazing and it has very nice reworking of some of Duke Ellington's compositions on it. I think, especially after hearing this outstanding album, that jazz has a bright future ahead of it thanks to Stefon Harris.
The lineup for this album are the following musicians:
Stefon Harris - vibraphone, marimba
Xavier Davis - piano
Derrick Hodge - bass
Terreon Gully - drums
Steve Turre - trombone
Anne Drummond - flute
Greg Tady - clarinet
Junah Chung - viola
Louise Dubin - cello
From The New Orleans Suite by Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn
1. Thanks for the Beautiful Land on the Delta
2. Portrait of Wellman Braud
3. Bourbon Street Jingling Jollies
From The Queen's Suite by Duke Ellington
4. Sunset and the Mocking Bird
5. Single Pedal of a Rose
From The Gardner Meditations by Stefon Harris
6. Memoirs of a Frozen Summer
7. African Tarantella
8. Dancing Enigma
The recording of this album is also something to talk about. The production is very well done. The engineering is fantastic, but all of these things are expected on a prestigous jazz label like Blue Note.
Stefon Harris has really crafted a beautiful album full of fascinating rhythms, textures, and most of all compositions. All of the musicians have done a remarkable job with this album. Some highlights for me are "Portrait of Wellman Braud," "Single Pedal Of A Rose," and the title track, but in all honesty all of the tunes are inspiring and interesting.
Don't hesitate for a second and pick this album up.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really loved the treatment of the Gil Evans tune, the orchestration is rich and the playing is first rate. Read morePublished on January 19, 2013 by R. Avalon
harris's playing is inspired, which makes this one reason to listen to this recording. another reason are the selections from works of duke ellington, particularly the pieces from... Read morePublished on February 15, 2007 by Case Quarter
This artist was new to me and I heard track seven on a jazz station. I knew I would purchase the cd from that one track I heard. Stefon really connects melodious with the vibes. Read morePublished on January 19, 2007 by N. Crenshaw
I've been a fan of Stefon Harris since seeing him on a "Saturday Night Live" broadcast as a guest soloist of the show's house band. Read morePublished on January 9, 2007 by The Movie Man