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Evolution

4.7 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 20, 2004
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Product Description

Evolution by Stefon Harris & Blackout

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Established jazz artists like vibraphonist Stefon Harris hold it on faith that their fans--and maybe some critics, too--will follow them when they gravitate toward the commercial side of the tracks with pop-informed albums. Still, even taking into account the need to reach a broader audience at a time when instrumental jazz has fallen out of favor, Evolution seems like a step backward, not forward. As contemporary jazz--if not Contemporary Jazz--goes, this album is a cut above. Harris has a great ear for melody, a gift for intoxicating, offbeat arrangements, and a knack for sublimating influences ranging from funk to fusion. (He is abetted in the latter style by Marc Cary, who often sounds like Return to Forever-era Chick Corea on electric piano.) But even if some of the performances get under your skin with repeated listening--a cover of Sting's ballad "Until" casts a sneaky spell--too much of the album is bland and predictable. While it's nice to hear Harris return from the rarified heights of his Grand Unification Theory suite and play with a working band again, he's capable of more evolutionary sounds than these. --Lloyd Sachs
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 20, 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Blue Note
  • Run Time: 67 minutes
  • ASIN: B0001XALXM
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,795 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jan P. Dennis on April 21, 2004
Format: Audio CD
. . . joining recent releases by Dave Douglas, Nicholas Payton, Josh Roseman, and others.
I especially like the way Harris has conceived and presented the sonorities of Fender Rhodes (and various other keyboards) with vibes/marimba. Darryl Hall's acoustic bass and Terreon Gully's drums provide wonderful sonic support and coloration, and Casey Benjamin's alto seamlessly blends into the soundscape along with dreamy flute and very cool percussive effects on about half the cuts. The resulting tonal palette is very pleasing, although to the casual listener it will sound suspiciously like smooth jazz. But don't be fooled. Harris's roots are too firmly in the jazz tradition for him to opt out for smooth jazz, and the compositions and playing, despite their apparent similarity to jazz lite, are far too rigorous and genuinely conversational to be regarded as anything but authentic jazz, although of a very distinctly postmodern type.
As with Dave Douglas's recent disc, Strange Liberation, Harris has forsaken the larger ensemble approach he took with Grand Unification Theory and recorded this disc with his working band. Like Strange Liberation, the results are pretty spectacular. One of the reasons, I think, is that Harris, like Douglas, concentrates more on ensemble playing and group sound than on fiery solos, although there are plenty of the latter especially from the leader and the remarkable Marc Cary, certainly one of the most versatile of modern jazz keys players.
I don't think there's any question but that Stefon Harris is the most interesting vibes player to emerge since Bobby Hutcherson came on the scene in the early sixties (and remains, perhaps, this instrument's leading voice).
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Format: MP3 Music
Just as Stefon Harris have reached new creative heights with his blockbuster
albums and live performances since 1997, he defined that approach, this time in
a crossover acoustic and contemporary mold when he formed his next band and
released this next masterpiece in 2004. When I first brought this award-winning
classic when it was first came out, I was gratefully impressed about the way this
master of the vibraphone handled it, and what really makes Evolution absolutely
great and special is the enchanting vibraphone artistry that he highly showcased
and recorded it so well. Presented by Stefon Harris & Blackout, the dimensional
track set features a stirring track set beginning with Nothing Personal, where it's
proceded by other compositions like For Him, For Her; Red-Bone Netti-Bone, Of
Grace, A Message To Mankind and even the funky King Tut's Strut, while giving
George Gershwin's Summertime and Bobby Hutcherson's Mantera a new lease
that hardly disappoints. Greeted by rave reviews and big album sales, Evolution
was even voted by many as the "Best Jazz CD Of 2004", although despite some
leanings toward contemporary jazz, Harris keeps the music steady under control
as he makes his vibes do most of the talking. So I would highly recommend this
different original classic, because it will give you such a rich listening experience
that will enlightened the heart and stir the imagination with such timeless power.
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By H on January 26, 2006
Format: Audio CD
There has been a lot of mediocre electric jazz/hip-hop/fusion like cross-over stuff these days, but this album is just plain killin' y'all. Harris's original compositions on here are beautiful, his improvisation brilliant. Great soloing from Marc Cary on keys and Casey Benjamin on alto. Terreon Gully's drumming is perhaps the real standout; ridiculously ingenious grooves and accompaniment. Dang, the only other younger cat who can keep up with him these days it seems like is Ronald Bruner in Kenny Garrett's band, but they aren't doing nearly as cool arrangements as these...

If you want to get your hands on some of the hippest new stuff out there you can't go wrong with this, yo :)
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Format: Audio CD
Because of the lack of good music on current radio stations, I have had a hard time finding new and interesting jazz musicians. I came across Stefon Harris's name in Downbeat magazine. I am awed by this CD. The music is lush and compelling, the beats intricate and riffs are many! The melodies and tonal changes are intriguing. This is a vastly talented group of musicians and a lot of thought and heart went into the making of this CD. Check it out!
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Format: Audio CD
I was first introduced to Mr. harris freshman cd A Cloud of red dust.I knew after hearing that, that this cat was on the rise of young new artist to contend with. and after hearing Evolution, again this young man has already exceeded my expectations of his talent. I look forward to his next project.anyone reading this review buy this cd, you will be glad you did.
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Format: Audio CD
Evolution is a superb CD. Every person that I shared this CD, bocomes a instant fan. The music is so insightful that it command to be heard. It is wonderful to such a skilled musician find the medium to convey his talents. He represents Blue Notes pattern of talented musicians. Now! Make DVD of one his performances.
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