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Hard bop is no longer new, but when done right, it's one of the eternal verities of jazz. When done right, by musicians who feel the music in their guts, it's full of heart and full of life. And A Time For The Soul, the latest release from drummer Winard Harper, is hard bop done right.
Ever since his days with The Harper Brothers in the early 1990's, Winard Harper has been establishing himself as a musician to be reckoned with. Now, at the helm of a crackling young sextet, Harper proves his mettle as a master drummer and as a whip-smart band leader as well.
This is one seriously together band. The rhythm section is ball-bearing smooth, feisty and fiery. They lay down a carpet of surging swing, and while the beat may get complex, the polyrhthms of Harper and Jones always serve the music. The horns solo authoritatively and succinctly, and while trumpeter Rickman and saxophonist Horton haven't quite found their own voices yet, it's clear they're actively searching. Horton, more so than Rickman, has developed his own sound, and both horn players studiously avoid cliches. Pianist Patton plays with a lot of heat, and he is featured to advantage on "Alone Together."
Highlights abound on this album: the relaxed bluesy swing of "Mr. Baggy Pants," the up-tempo roar of "About Face," the ferocious pure groove of "Glorify"; Patton's drive and luxurious chording, Saleem's rock-steady time, the conviction and invention of Rickman and Horton; and above all, the authoritative drumming and leadership of Winard Harper.
Track Listing: Soul Time, Mr. Baggy Pants, Here's To Life, Dat Dere, About Face, When The Time Is Right, All Praise To G-d, Alone Together, Catanya, Glorify.
Personnel: Winard Harper, drums; Patrick Rickman, trumpet; Brian Horton, tenor and soprano saxophone; Jeb Patton, piano; Ameen Saleem, bass; Kevin Jones, percussion.
Track 7: add Scott Harper, auxiliary percussion.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.