All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

237

Donald Harrison: Free Style

By

Sign in to view read count
Coming across the music of Donald Harrison was something of a happy accident for me. I was not really listening to our local jazz radio station late one evening; my thoughts were wandering elsewhere. Suddenly this great tune came on. It consisted of a stripped-down funky rhythm overlaid with a simple yet insistent alto line which grew more and more intense and free as the track wore on. By this point the radio had my full attention and I was tapping my foot.

The piece in question was "Free Style, the title track of alto saxophonist Donald Harrison's latest recording. This album, his second for thee German Nagel-Heyer label, continues the stripped-down style showcased on his first Nagel-Heyer album, Heroes (2004). The tracks are largely a set of trio recordings with Harrison joined by bassist Vincente Archer and drummer John Lamkin. Pianist Glen Patscha plays on three cuts and helps to round out the edges, so the overall experience isn't too relentless.

Some of Harrison's earlier work, like his '99 Impulse album Free to Be, used larger bands and sounded very polished. These days he sounds a lot more stripped-down and funky—most definitely a good thing. The preferred style these days is structured around a tightly-locked groove from the rhythm section. The lack of piano on most of the tracks gives Harrison a great deal of room to stretch out, and stretch out he does, building his simple themes to a towering intensity. Tracks like "Free to Be, "Get Your Swerve, and "Free Style" are groove-based and addictive—you just want them to carry on and on. Even the covers, like Miles Davis' "So What and Monk's "Well You Needn't, are a lot more tough and funky than I ever recall. If you grew up on funk and electronic music, where the groove is where it's at, you will love this.

The only slight duff tracks are "Rock Song, which, er, sounds like a rock song and leans towards the plodding; and "New Hope, which starts to sound a little too smooth in places, with its mellow piano chords. These are minor complaints, though overall you will want to keep on coming back to this one. I am curious now as to where Harrison will head next. Keep your eyes open for the Donald Harrison album of classic '70s funk covers... Just kidding!


Track Listing: 1. Hand Jive; 2. Free Style; 3. New Hope; 4. Get Your Swerve; 5. So What; 6. Rock Song; 7. Well You Needn

Personnel: Donald Harrison - alto saxophone; Glenn Patscha - piano; Vicente Archer - bass; John Lamkin - drums. Bonus tracks: Donald Harrison - alto saxophone; Ron Carter - bass; Billy Cobham - drums.

Title: Free Style | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Nagel Heyer Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Twerk It

Twerk It

Donald Harrison
The Survivor

Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
This Is Jazz

This Is Jazz

Half Note Records
2011

buy
 

Esperanza

abop tv
2009

buy
The Chosen

The Chosen

Nagel Heyer Records
2009

buy
The Survivor

The Survivor

Nagel Heyer Records
2007

buy
Free Style

Free Style

Nagel Heyer Records
2005

buy
Heroes

Heroes

Nagel Heyer Records
2004

buy

Related Articles

Read Der Dichter Spricht CD/LP/Track Review
Der Dichter Spricht
by Troy Dostert
Published: April 26, 2018
Read Piano Works CD/LP/Track Review
Piano Works
by John Sharpe
Published: April 26, 2018
Read Throw Tomatoes CD/LP/Track Review
Throw Tomatoes
by Mark Corroto
Published: April 26, 2018
Read Reflections 2 CD/LP/Track Review
Reflections 2
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 26, 2018
Read Making Other Arrangements CD/LP/Track Review
Making Other Arrangements
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 25, 2018
Read Charlie & Paul CD/LP/Track Review
Charlie & Paul
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 25, 2018
Read "Flesh & Bone" CD/LP/Track Review Flesh & Bone
by Troy Collins
Published: August 22, 2017
Read "The Way Home" CD/LP/Track Review The Way Home
by Joe Gatto
Published: November 23, 2017
Read "Wobbly Dance Flower" CD/LP/Track Review Wobbly Dance Flower
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 22, 2017
Read "Origins" CD/LP/Track Review Origins
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 20, 2018
Read "Silent Light" CD/LP/Track Review Silent Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 27, 2017
Read "Aspiration" CD/LP/Track Review Aspiration
by Karl Ackermann
Published: September 5, 2017