How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Drummer, composer and bandleader Winard Harper brings his relentless exuberance to Make It Happen, where the seemingly disparate Afro-Caribbean and bebop styles stand shoulder to shoulder. The percussion-driven nature of the recording is evident from the top, with an energetic arrangement of Charlie Parker's "Segment where Alione Faye's percussion binding the fabric of the two genres seamlessly, while Stacy Dillard and Josh Evans, on tenor and trumpet, handle the bebop chores. Harper's balafon play and Abdou Mboup's talking drum give "Children of the World an African lilt, and Antonio Hart lends his supple alto to the lush "Morning Glow.
The title tune is a daring aural storm, with trombonist Wycliffe Gordon leading off on didgeridoo. When Gordon soloed on this instrument during Harper's recent run at Jazz Standard, the distinct vocal elements he applied sounded like Slam Stewart doing Tibetan monk chants. Gordon's playing leads to more African percussive elements that bust out into a full-blown Fred Wesley and the JBs brand of funk, with Gordon working out on the trombone.
The band shows a fine fluency and facility with playing straight-ahead on standards like "I've Never Been In Love Before and the rapid-fire "Get It! Get It! , which has great trumpet and trombone work by Evans and Gordon. The colorful and on-point bop stylings of "Not One Chance and "Reflection feature back to back piano work by T.W. Sample and Sean Higgins. And the joyous, onomatopoetically titled "BangBangBoomBoomBapBap is a percussive gem.
The disc closes with two types of worship. The gospel-themed "After Hours is a revival meeting held in a juke joint, with Gordon's testimony on the trombone affirming the faith of the righteous and moving the sinners to confession. "The Prayer features ardent vocalizing by Mboup over a hypnotic African beat that closes the ceremonies perfectly.
Track Listing: Segment; Children of the World; Morning Glow; Make It Happen; Tamisha;
I've Never Been In Love Before; Get It! Get It!; Not One Chance; Reflection; Divine Surveillance; Lourana; Chronic Mistakes;
BangBangBoomBoomBapBap; After Hours; The Prayer.