237

Donald Harrison: Free Style

By

Sign in to view read count
Donald Harrison: Free Style 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.

Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Nagel Heyer Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Pathways CD/LP/Track Review Pathways
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 30, 2017
Read Landing CD/LP/Track Review Landing
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 30, 2017
Read Words And Music CD/LP/Track Review Words And Music
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 30, 2017
Read Faces CD/LP/Track Review Faces
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 30, 2017
Read Nor Sea, nor Land, nor Salty Waves CD/LP/Track Review Nor Sea, nor Land, nor Salty Waves
by Duncan Heining
Published: April 30, 2017
Read Petite Afrique CD/LP/Track Review Petite Afrique
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 29, 2017
Read "This Is Where I Live" CD/LP/Track Review This Is Where I Live
by James Nadal
Published: June 20, 2016
Read "True Love Collection" CD/LP/Track Review True Love Collection
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 24, 2016
Read "Moanin'" CD/LP/Track Review Moanin'
by Chris Mosey
Published: October 3, 2016
Read "Back Where I Belong" CD/LP/Track Review Back Where I Belong
by James Nadal
Published: June 7, 2016
Read "Hauptbahnhof" CD/LP/Track Review Hauptbahnhof
by Anthony Shaw
Published: April 4, 2017
Read "Upbeat And Sweet" CD/LP/Track Review Upbeat And Sweet
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 13, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!