Lafayette Harris, Jr.: Bend To The Light

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
Lafayette Harris, Jr.: Bend To The Light
While art often takes cues from life, and life certainly offers up its fair share of trials, tribulations, and dark spells, pianist Lafayette Harris, Jr. prefers to emphasize the positive while pouring existential thought into his music.

On Bend To The Light—the seventh offering from Harris over the past twenty-plus years—hope, happiness, and positive vibes dominate. He delivers uplifting originals that point to his past and present, investigates the work of artists as different as pop-soul crooner Luther Vandross and pianist-composer Herbie Nichols, tackles songbook favorites, and engages in pleasant musical conversation with his distinguished trio mates—drummer Willie Jones III, who's worked with Harris in vocalist Ernestine Anderson's band, and bassist Lonnie Plaxico, who appeared on Harris' first leader date and also spent time with the pianist in the employ of Anderson.

Together, these three, along with the occasional guest, sail and skate along as Harris presents an autobiographical playlist in fairly understated fashion. There's the title track, a number written for Harris' sons that's meant to emphasize the need to spread good in this world; the lightly swinging "Achem," referencing a town in Germany where the piece was penned; "Old Devil Moon" and "Tenderly," two classics that Harris loves to work through; a dedication to Harris' mother in the form of "Geneva," a song with odd-metered bookends and 4/4 swing at its core; and a take on Nichols' "12 Bars" that was arranged by Harris' dear friend, trombone great Roswell Rudd. A third of the material, including the aforementioned "Achem" and the florid and moving "Japanese Love Poem," appears on previous Harris releases, but those pieces come off fresh as can be here. With a new band and plenty more experience under his belt, Harris is now able to go to places where he didn't or couldn't travel before.

This version of the Lafayette Harris, Jr. Trio doesn't reinvent the wheel or push any boundaries, but that's quite all right. Instead, this group spreads good cheer while articulately expressing itself and bringing Harris' music to life. That's more than enough to deem this recording a success.

Track Listing

Bend To The Light; Take You Out; We In The House; 12 Bars; Achern; Japanese Love Poem; Old Devil Moon; Blues On The Edge; Tenderly; Geneva; Bend To The Light (Vocal Version); We In The House (Short Version).


Lafayette Harris Jr.: piano; Lonnie Plaxico: bass; Willie Jones III: drums; Thomas Dyani: percussion (2, 6); Jazzmeia Horn: vocals (11).

Album information

Title: Bend To The Light | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Airmen Records

Post a comment about this album


Shop Amazon


Home at Last
Amit Friedman
Nik Bärtsch
soundz offfe drzk wähuh
Johnny Gandelsman
Rich Pellegrin
Ain't No Storm
Caleb Wheeler Curtis
Odd Wisdom
Diego Pinera


All About Jazz needs your support

All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.