6

Bruce Harris: Beginnings

David A. Orthmann By

Sign in to view read count
Beginnings sounds as if it's guided by an old hand instead of someone relatively new to the demanding art of leading a band. The debut recording of trumpeter Bruce Harris captures a coherent, homogeneous group sound, while utilizing several different combinations of instruments. Harris ties together material ranging from Harold Arlen, to Bud Powell, to Prince, as well as his own originals, and judiciously employs the assorted voices of several soloists who effectively express themselves in only a chorus or two.

Harris' "Ask Questions," Horace Silver's "Mr. Blakey," and Powell's "Una Noche Con Francis" contain gorgeous voicings for three or four horns. The band handles the charts with precision and a sense of purpose that's exhilarating. During the head of Arlen's "Ill Wind," Harris and tenor saxophonist Jerry Weldon move around one another like ballroom dancers, as do the trumpeter and tenor saxophonist Andy Farber on Harris' "So Near, So Far." The leader's muted trumpet (which he often employs in a manner as impressive as his work with the open horn) and the rhythm section are all that's needed to animate Russell Faith's and Clarence Kehner's "Snowbound," and Prince's "Do U Lie?"

Pianist Michael Weiss, bassist Clovis Nicolas, and drummer Pete Van Nostrand make for an exemplary rhythm section, one that handles the heads and interacts with the soloists in a knowing, relaxed, utterly supportive manner. Weiss' comping often sounds like it's a part of the solo he's accompanying. There's a particularly impressive chemistry between the pianist and Harris on "Ill Wind" and "Snowbound." Van Nostrand possesses an uncanny ability to place accents and concise fills in exactly the right places and with the appropriate degree of emphasis. In his support of the head of "Una Noche Con Francis," for example, pauses are as important as the strokes.

As a soloist Harris holds his own in the company of players who are, by and large, his senior. He's a raconteur who tells a lucid tale while leaving sufficient open space for the rhythm section to fill in the details. "Una Noche Con Francis" contains Harris' most compelling work with the open horn; "Ill Wind" is the gem of the muted improvisations. On "Ask Questions" and "Una Noche Con Francis," baritone saxophonist Frank Basile's burly, punctilious bebop styling makes for an interesting contrast to alto saxophonist Dmitry Baevsky's somewhat shadowy, bop-based fare. Weiss' sixteen-bar introduction to Harris' "So Near, So Far" is an exemplar of wisdom, economy and refined swing. Wistful one moment and gruff the next, Farber's "So Near, So Far" solo deftly joins a variety of phrases and covers a lot of ground before reaching a climax.

It's rare that a debut recording succeeds on as many levels as Beginnings. I look forward to hearing more of Bruce Harris' efforts as a leader in the future.

Track Listing: Ask Questions; Ill Wind; Mr. Blakey; Snowbound; The Step; Do U Lie?; Una Noche Con Francis; So Near, So Far.

Personnel: Bruce Harris: trumpet; Dmitry Baevsky: alto saxophone (1, 7); Andy Farber: tenor saxophone (3, 5, 7, 8); Jerry Weldon: tenor saxophonist (2); Frank Basile: baritone saxophone (1, 3, 7); Grant Stewart: tenor saxophone (3, 5); Michael Weiss: piano; Clovis Nicholas: bass; Pete Van Nostrand: drums.

Title: Beginnings | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Posi-Tone Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Whispers on the Wind CD/LP/Track Review Whispers on the Wind
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 23, 2017
Read Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman CD/LP/Track Review Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 23, 2017
Read Heptagon CD/LP/Track Review Heptagon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 23, 2017
Read ON Tour CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read On a Distant Shore CD/LP/Track Review On a Distant Shore
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read "Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello" CD/LP/Track Review Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello
by John Eyles
Published: July 11, 2017
Read "I Know Who I Am" CD/LP/Track Review I Know Who I Am
by James Nadal
Published: July 26, 2017
Read "Eight Track II" CD/LP/Track Review Eight Track II
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 4, 2016
Read "Backlog" CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by James Nadal
Published: February 27, 2017
Read "Backlog" CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "This Is Nate Najar" CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY IT!  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.