How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Through his free interpretation of American folk songs and country classics, guitarist Joel Harrison explores the growth patterns that exist under today's expanding jazz umbrella.
As a contemporary blues band, Harrison's ensemble slides and moans characteristically to uphold the tradition of this deep-seated music.
As a backbeat-driven rock band, the guitarist's arrangements exhale emotion through a combination of organ, bass, drums and steely guitar firestorms.
It's as a freewheeling jazz band that Harrison's ensemble makes room for a pioneering spirit and a creative form of experimentation. Norah Jones guests on "Tennessee Waltz" and "I Walk the Line." With Harrison and saxophonist David Binney, she seduces the listener with melody while honoring a tradition of Americana in song.
"Hell Broke Loose in Georgia" stands out for its avant-garde spirit, as pianist Uri Caine, accordionist Tony Cedras and violinist Rob Thomas assist Harrison in a futuristic re-interpretation of ye olde square dance. The leader's guitar takes Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues" to new highs through his free jam session with violin, alto sax, bass and drums. Throughout the album, Harrison's quintet pursues an essential thread of growth in modern mainstream jazz through its unique interpretation of familiar songs.
Track Listing: I Walk the Line; Lonesome Road Blues; Wayfaring Stranger; This Land is Your Land; Twelve Gates to the City; Tennessee Waltz; Hell Broke Loose in Georgia; Folsom Prison Blues; Tender Years; Will the Circle Be Unbroken; Sing Me Back Home; Lone Pilgrim.
Personnel: Joel Harrison- guitar, vocals; David Binney- alto saxophone; Rob Thomas- violin; Uri Caine- piano; Tony Cedras- accordion; Rob Burger- keyboards; Stephan Crump, Sean Conly- bass; Dan Weiss, Alison Miller- drums; Todd Isler- percussion; Norah Jones, Jen Chapin, Raz Kennedy- vocals.