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Alex Harding (Detroit) and Lucian Ban (Romania) have developed a fruitful partnership over the last few years. Harding's bluesy, church-steeped baritone sax is the logical heir to Hamiet Bluiett's, while Ban's tasteful, reflective piano playing combines the elegance and technical precision of the European classical tradition with wide-ranging musical interests and a passion for improvisation.
Backed by bassist Brad Jones and drummer Nasheet Waits, Harding is the nominal leader on The Calling, and while half the writing credit is Ban's, the band's sound benefits from Harding's bass clarinet on the pianist's "Estonia and his own arrangement of the traditional "Shades of Ellegua. On "Cultural Warrior, Harding's baritone is a caress, while on "Southern Dawn, a Ban composition that gets to these players' roots, Harding builds his dirtiest, most impressive solo. "Spirit Take My Hand leaves too early, fading out on a beat that Waits lays down at the finish.
Lucian Ban & Asymmetry Quartet Playground Jazzaway 2005
Harding sits out for Playground, a recording by the Asymmetry Quartet, which features veteran alto player and native of Panama Jorge Sylvester. Drummer Derrek Phillips ignites the opening take of "Hieroglyphics, and he and bassist Jones provide sensitive backing for Ban and Sylvester to shimmer on "Gentle Shifts Rain and "Silence. Sylvester is a gorgeously melodic player whose tone can be light as a feather on ballads, particularly on the delicate "For Giuffre. Even on up-tempo numbers, Sylvester is as frothy as hand-whipped cream on its way to butter; he and Ban churn on the title track.
In addition to Ban's pairing with Alex Harding and his work with Asymmetry, his bio indicates several other active projects and more recordings in the works. He's a prolific composer, generous with his sidemen and not content simply to work again and again with the same lineup. We should be thankful for Lucian Ban's abundant imagination.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: The Calling; Cultural Warrior; Quirky; Spirit Take My Hand; Estonia; Sketch; Southern Dawn; Blast; Shades of Ellegua.
Personnel: Alex Harding: baritone sax, bass clarinet; Lucian Ban: piano; Brad Jones: bass; Nasheet Waits: drums; Andrew Daniels: percussion.
Tracks: Hieroglyphics; Gentle Shifts Rain; Playground; Symmetry; For Giuffre; Travelin' with Ra; Silence; Go For It!; Asymmetry.
I was first exposed to jazz when I was studying at the University of Puerto Rico. Nearby, I found a little record shop where the music coming from the store (Taller de Jazz Don Pedro) made me stop. I walked down the short stairs and towards the music and learned that the music playing was Clifford Brown and Max Roach
I was first exposed to jazz when I was studying at the University of Puerto Rico. Nearby, I found a little record shop where the music coming from the store (Taller de Jazz Don Pedro) made me stop. I walked down the short stairs and towards the music and learned that the music playing was Clifford Brown and Max Roach. I fell in love with it. I wondered around until the owner (Pedro Soto) asked if I needed help. He then introduced me to John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Gerry Mulligan and the rest is history. I walked out of the store with my first jazz recording: Clifford Brown and Max Roach at Basin Street.