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Drummer, composer and bandleader Winard Harper brings his relentless exuberance to Make It Happen, where the seemingly disparate Afro-Caribbean and bebop styles stand shoulder to shoulder. The percussion-driven nature of the recording is evident from the top, with an energetic arrangement of Charlie Parker's "Segment where Alione Faye's percussion binding the fabric of the two genres seamlessly, while Stacy Dillard and Josh Evans, on tenor and trumpet, handle the bebop chores. Harper's balafon play and Abdou Mboup's talking drum give "Children of the World an African lilt, and Antonio Hart lends his supple alto to the lush "Morning Glow.
The title tune is a daring aural storm, with trombonist Wycliffe Gordon leading off on didgeridoo. When Gordon soloed on this instrument during Harper's recent run at Jazz Standard, the distinct vocal elements he applied sounded like Slam Stewart doing Tibetan monk chants. Gordon's playing leads to more African percussive elements that bust out into a full-blown Fred Wesley and the JBs brand of funk, with Gordon working out on the trombone.
The band shows a fine fluency and facility with playing straight-ahead on standards like "I've Never Been In Love Before and the rapid-fire "Get It! Get It! , which has great trumpet and trombone work by Evans and Gordon. The colorful and on-point bop stylings of "Not One Chance and "Reflection feature back to back piano work by T.W. Sample and Sean Higgins. And the joyous, onomatopoetically titled "BangBangBoomBoomBapBap is a percussive gem.
The disc closes with two types of worship. The gospel-themed "After Hours is a revival meeting held in a juke joint, with Gordon's testimony on the trombone affirming the faith of the righteous and moving the sinners to confession. "The Prayer features ardent vocalizing by Mboup over a hypnotic African beat that closes the ceremonies perfectly.
Track Listing: Segment; Children of the World; Morning Glow; Make It Happen; Tamisha; I've Never Been in
Love Before; Get It! Get It!; Not One Chance; Reflection; Divine Surveillance; Lourana; Chronic
Mistakes; BangBangBoomBoomBapBap; After Hours; The Prayer.
Personnel: Winard Harper: drums, Balafon (2,15); Wycliffe Gordon: trombone (4,7,14), didgeridoo (4);
Antonio Hart: alto saxophone (3,5,6); Josh Evans: trumpet; Lawrence Clark: tenor saxophone;
Stacy Dillard: tenor saxophone (1,12); T. W. Sample: piano; Sean Higgins: piano (1,9,12);
Ameen Saleem: bass; Alioune Faye: sabar, jamba, djembe; Abdou Mboup: talking drum (tama)
(2,15), vocal (15); Kevin Jones: conga, jamba, shaker, triangle; Jeremy Jones: tambourine,
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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