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Benjamin Harrison: Nomad

Roger Farbey By

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Australian multi-instrumentalist Benjamin Harrison began his career as a child prodigy, initially playing piano and violin at age four. He then gained a music school scholarship and performed nationally and internationally, including participating in a tour of China as an Australian cultural ambassador in 2003. In 2007, Harrison advanced his formal studies at the University of Adelaide's Elder Conservatorium of Music, graduating with a Bachelor of Music Performance and specializing in jazz saxophone. From 2010 he has had an ongoing association with the prestigious Cirque du Soleil, touring Europe, North America, South America and Australia. He subsequently toured with Cirque as the bandleader for its production of VOLTA, and is currently bandleader on its Alegria production.

The title of Harrison's debut album, Nomad, reflects his peripatetic life as a super-talented globetrotting musician. The project began back in 2016, when he started recording the album with several musicians he had worked with from Cirque du Soleil. The recording itself was hardly a straightforward matter since the majority of the parts were recorded remotely by musicians participating from around the world. This necessitated a huge amount of work in order to collate the parts together seamlessly. The album was finally completed in 2018, largely thanks to a Kickstarter campaign that allowed Harrison to hire renowned studio engineer Simon Cotsworth to mix and master the album.

Harrison's influences range from John Coltrane and George Benson to Steely Dan and Marcus Miller. From the opener onwards, it's evident that Harrison must have also listened carefully to the Brecker Brothers. The sax-led funkiness of "Let's Get This Party Started" is followed by a more reflective, soulful "Here There Be Giants" with its tight brass ensemble arrangement.

Without exception, Harrison's supporting musicians are all virtuosos, evidenced by spectacular drum breaks from Italian percussionist Andrea Vadrucci on the elegiac "From Dusk Until Dawn," or Australian guitarist Quentin Angus's deft lines on the title track. Harrison's slinky, sinuous sax on "Side Hustle" show he is no slouch either. Yet his sheer versatility is amazing. On that fulsome number, he plays all the instruments except drums. Groove-laden numbers such as "Solid" even channel the likes of fusioneers such as Snarky Puppy.

This consummate fifty-minute collection of self-penned compositions proves that where true talent needs to manifest, it will inevitably find a way.

Track Listing: Let's Get This Party Started; Here There Be Giants; Side Hustle; Vamos; Nomad; Solid; From Dusk Until Dawn; This Is Just The Beginning.

Personnel: Benjamin Harrison: soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, EWI, piano/keyboard, synthesizer, bass guitar and programming; Dane Laboyrie (1,2,4-6,8): trumpet; Daniel McIlvride (1,2,4-6,8): trombone; Cory Wong (1,4), Quentin Angus (5), William Lawrence (2,4,8): guitar; Jean- Louis Locas (1,8): bass guitar; Andre 'Dre Energy' Boyd (3), Andrea Vadrucci (Vadrum) (7): drums; Ben Todd (1,2,4,5,6,8): drums and percussion.

Title: Nomad | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Self Produced

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