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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.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.