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Articles | Featured | Future

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Stefon Harris & Blackout: Sonic Creed

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In its most basic function, the music that makes up Sonic Creed serves as a mirror to African American life in the here and now. It explores the history, legacy, struggles, and joys of the Black community, speaking to all of it at once through sound and sentiment. Sonic Creed arrives almost a decade after this groove outfit's last showing--Urbanus (Concord, 2009)--but the time away hasn't hurt the band. If anything, Blackout has become a more limber ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Ninety Miles: Boulder, CO, January 17, 2013

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Ninety MilesMacky AuditoriumBoulder, COJanuary 17, 2013Cuba has long held an allure for jazz musicians. The sounds and particularly the rhythms emanating from that country have influenced jazz nearly from the beginning. From early in the 20th Century, the Latin tinge, as Jelly Roll Morton called it, has seasoned the jazz sound. By the 1940s, through the work of musicians like Mario Bauza, Chano Pozo and Dizzy Gillespie, Afro Cuban jazz became an important part of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Stefon Harris / David Sanchez / Christian Scott: Ninety Miles

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On paper, Ninety Miles was a tantalizing project from the beginning; bringing together three of the most exciting voices in modern jazz--Puerto Rican-born tenor saxophonist David Sanchez, New Orleans trumpeter Christian Scott, and New York vibraphonist Stefon Harris-- and transport them to Havana to play with two outstanding, piano-led Cuban jazz quartets. The American red tape took a year to negotiate--which shows a dogged determination of sorts on all sides--but the musical connection that resulted was clearly instant, judging by ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Stefon Harris / David Sanchez / Christian Scott: Ninety Miles

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They're all relative youngsters in a jazz world that still finds nonagenarians like Dave Brubeck hitting the summer festival circuit. Tenor saxophonist David Sánchez may be the elder statesman on the marquis of Ninety Miles, with vibraphonist Stefon Harris in the middle position at 38 and trumpeter Christian Scott still on the shy side of 30, but each of them has already made his mark, making this an all-star in-the-making American/Cuban collaboration on an upward trajectory. Scott's ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Stefon Harris and Blackout in Golden, CO

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Stefon Harris and Blackout Mt. Vernon Country Club Golden, CO October 15, 2009

Stefon Harris is like one of those small, wiry running backs that gets the job done through finesse and quickness rather than brute force. Indeed, at his concert Thursday night at the Mt. Vernon Country Club, Harris sometimes darted back and forth in front of his vibraphone reaching between the bass clef and treble clef like a ball carrier cutting ...

INTERVIEWS

Stefon Harris: Authenticity and Audacity

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Authenticity is a special word for vibraphone wizard Stefon Harris when it comes to his art, which springs from the tradition of jazz music, but is approached through a modern lens that takes into account the sounds and perspective of 2009. He has enough audacity--also a special word for Harris--to say it clearly, to elucidate what he is going for in his music. And he has enough audacity on the bandstand to go for it. “It's ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Stefon Harris & Blackout: Urbanus

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Since emerging in the late 1990s as the vibraphonist of his generation, Stefon Harris has been unfairly tagged as an overly cerebral player for Blue Note projects like the elaborate Grand Unification Theory (2003) and African Tarantella: Dances for Duke (2006). Evolution (Blue Note, 2004), Harris' first with his groove-happy Blackout band, went a long way to demonstrating a capacity for making accessible music with plenty going on under the hood. Following a few years of touring--including outstanding 2006 performances ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Stefon Harris: African Tarantella: Dances with Duke

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Given the number of tribute albums coming out these days, it's refreshing to see an artist reference lesser-known works and take a road less-travelled in terms of approach. Vibraphonist Stefon Harris' African Tarantella enlists a streamlined instrumental configuration to rework excerpts from Duke Ellington's 1970 “The New Orleans Suite" and 1958 “The Queen's Suite," along with parts of his own commissioned “The Garner Meditations." The result is less cerebral than The Grand Unification Theory (Blue Note, 2003), but no less ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Stefon Harris: African Tarantella: Dances with Duke

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With five previous albums on Blue Note, vibraphonist Stefon Harris has proven to be one of the label's most adventurous new artists. More conceptually expansive than many of his generation, Harris has long been interested in extended forms and suite-like structures. His 2003 album, The Grand Unification Theory (Blue Note), dealt with the journey from birth to death as its subject matter. In light of such lofty ambition, reinterpreting selections from Duke Ellington's suites seems natural.

Harris demonstrates ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Stefon Harris: African Tarantella: Dances with Duke

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With three selections from Duke Ellington's “New Orleans Suite, two from his “Queen's Suite and three more from Stefan Harris' own “Gardner Meditations, African Tarantella conveys a sincere appreciation for lyrical beauty. Like the original purpose for a tarantella, the music transfixes you with its magic spell. Much of Ellington's music had that quality, and it's not surprising that Harris would dedicate his latest album to such a well-known body of work.

With a nonet that rides high ...