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Action is the keyword when most jazz vibraphonists take the stage. With eighty percent of the program his own material, and surrounded by a stellar cast, Stefon Harris has followed up his debut with a project that merely extends his introduction to the jazz world. A modern mainstream session from the twenty-something young lion, Harris’ sophomore album presents bebop-derived anthems near and dear to our hearts. Yet, he seems to be holding back on us. In another year, folks will be saying, "Oh, that’s so Twentieth-Century!"
As he did on A Cloud Of Red Dust, Harris works with the full ensemble on Black Action Figure for a part of the session and with his quartet for other portions, creating a gentle balance. The Quartet - vibes, piano, bass and drums - gives us "BlackActionFigure," "There Is No Greater Love" and "After the Day is Done." Greg Osby’s grainy alto saxophone tone lends itself to the dramatic picture, echoing throughout the album with a bit of a sizzle. The session’s highlight comes as flute joins the quartet on the ballad "Collage," interwoven with vibes in a pretty affair. Nice but unremarkable, Harris’ modern mainstream album carries on the tradition while looking at various harmonic blends and melodic journeys.
Track Listing: Club Madness; Feline Blues; There Is No Greater Love; Of Things to Come; After the Day is Done; Conversations at the Mess; BlackActionFigure; Collage; You Stepped Out of a Dream; Alovi; Bass Vibes; The Alchemist; Chorale; Faded Beauty; Musical Silence.
Personnel: Stefon Harris- vibraphone; Jason Moran- piano; Tarus Mateen- bass; Eric Harland- drums; Greg Osby- alto sax; Steve Turre- trombone; Gary Thomas- tenor sax, alto flute on "The Alchemist," "Chorale," "Collage" and "Faded Beauty."
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.