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Joel Harrison: Angel Band: Free Country Vol. 3

Read "Angel Band: Free Country Vol. 3" reviewed by Peter Hoetjes

Possessed of restless creativity and a desire not to repeat himself, guitarist/vocalist Joel Harrison took a 14-year hiatus between albums in his Free Country series to release over a dozen other efforts before returning with Angel Band: Free Country Volume 3. Building on the foundation set by the first two albums, he recruits a few returning musicians as well as a menagerie of new talent, including a handful of vocalists. Harrison takes an amalgamation of folk, country, bluegrass ...

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Joel Harrison 5: Spirit House

Read "Spirit House" reviewed by Troy Collins

Throughout his storied career, Washington DC-born guitarist Joel Harrison has demonstrated an interest in a wide range of musical styles. Since his leadership debut in the mid-1990s, Harrison has explored an array of genres, from pan-global collaborations with North Indian classical musicians to radical rearrangements of Appalachian folk tunes. Spirit House, the premiere of his most recent ensemble, the Joel Harrison 5, features yet another unique configuration, with Harrison joined by trumpeter Cuong Vu, bassoonist Paul Hanson, bassist Kermit Driscoll ...

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Joel Harrison: Spirit House

Read "Spirit House" reviewed by Blaine Fallis

Spirit House is a Joel Harrison original! Original compositions, ideas, instrumentations, and grooves. While jazz sometimes repeats itself (in style, instrumentation, or choice of songs etc.), Harrison creates completely new music worth listening to, “repeatedly." I say this because he wrote the music “specifically for this unique group of individuals," using electric guitar with bassoon (Paul Hanson), and the echoed voicings of trumpeter Cuong Vu. Add in veteran drummer Brian Blade and bassist Kermit Driscoll, and you have ...

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Joel Harrison: Mother Stump

Read "Mother Stump" reviewed by Dave Wayne

Given his proclivity for wildly eclectic, big-concept musical projects featuring improbable combinations of multi-ethnic instrumentalists, Joel Harrison is about the last guitarist I'd expect to record a funky slab of power-trio jazz-rock-funk fusion. Across the board, his guitaristic skills have taken a back seat to compositional concerns and rich, detailed arrangements. Yet, here is Mother Stump, Harrison's paean to 70s-era jazz-rooted, rock-powered, funked-up guitar-centric instrumental music. Moreover, Harrison has pointedly eschewed all of the studio polish and post-production nonsense that ...

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Joel Harrison: Mother Stump

Read "Mother Stump" reviewed by Glenn Astarita

Every so often, musicians feel an inner urge to return to their roots and test their acumen with newer techniques and perspectives. Here, guitarist Joel Harrison revitalizes his early persuasions in a trio format, with keyboardist Glenn Patscha appearing on several tracks. Recognized for his heterogeneous projects, including big band, world-jazz, progressive jazz and distinctive style as a guitarist not content to his rest on his laurels, Mother Stump interconnects another phase of his all-embracing faculties. With dreamy volume control ...

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Joel Harrison & Anupam Shobhakar Multiplicity: Leave the Door Open

Read "Leave the Door Open" reviewed by Chris M. Slawecki

Leave the Door Open is more than evocative and expertly played music: It heralds the emerging age of global world jazz and the attendant possibilities with which it comes. Jazz and blues guitarist Joel Harrison (from Washington, DC) and sarode player Anupam Shobhakar (from Kolkata, India) first met to work on Harrison's 2010 Guggenheim Fellowship for composing a piece for jazz quintet, classical percussion and sarode. “I have had a lifelong interest in sarode but working with Anupam ...

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Joel Harrison: Mother Stump

Read "Mother Stump" reviewed by Troy Collins

Guitarist and composer Joel Harrison is well-known for creative cross-cultural collaborations and unique arrangements of works by influential musicians like George Harrison and Paul Motian. A magnanimous bandleader, Harrison rarely dominates his own recording projects, typically soloing with lyrical economy in lieu of pyrotechnic excess. Mother Stump focuses on this underplayed aspect of Harrison's abilities, spotlighting his improvisational prowess on a hand-picked selection of beloved cover tunes and a pair of evocative originals. Inspired in part by the ...

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Joel Harrison & Anupam Shobhakar Multiplicity: Leave the Door Open

Read "Leave the Door Open" reviewed by John Kelman

If but a single word must describe guitarist/composer Joel Harrison it's restless; one look at his discography, from his “breakthrough" Free Country (ACT, 2003) to the 19-piece big band of Infinite Possibility (Sunnyside, 2013) and it's clear that this Guggenheim Fellowship Award winner isn't content in any one place for long. Leave the Door Open may be his first album of 2014--and yet another departure, this time exploring an improv-heavy kind of world music sourced from the East and West ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Joel Harrison 5 at Gigspace Performance Studio

Read "Joel Harrison 5 at Gigspace Performance Studio" reviewed by John Kelman

Joel Harrison 5 Gigspace Performance Studio Ottawa, Canada March 1, 2014 Tucked at the end of a small strip mall in an unlikely location, Gigspace Performance Studio has, since opening in the fall of 2011, garnered a reputation as an intimate performance space where magic often happens. A not-for-profit 46-seat venue, “created by musicians for musicians," it sports surprisingly great sound, despite a stage where even a quintet like the Joel Harrison 5 had to ...

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Joel Harrison & Lorenzo Feliciati: Holy Abyss

Read "Holy Abyss" reviewed by Glenn Astarita

With his stylistic approach to jazz guitar, Joel Harrison imparts a mark of authenticity on whatever genre-busting activities he approaches. Whether tackling drummer Paul Motian's compositions with a folk-jazz, chamber slant on The Music of Paul Motian (Sunnyside, 2011), or morphing country, blues, and jazz on So Long 2nd Street (ACT, 2004), the guitarist often injects a newfangled twist within standard fare. On Holy Abyss, he co-leads with wunderkind Italian bassist Lorenzo Feliciati, supported by three eminent jazz artists for ...

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Joel Harrison 7: Search

Read "Search" reviewed by Troy Collins

For over a decade, Joel Harrison has been steadily expanding his palette as a composer, although his penchant for unorthodox instrumental combinations and multicultural folk forms encompass only one facet of his inclusive aesthetic. Harrison's most recent efforts have borrowed heavily from Western neo-classical tenets; The Wheel (Innova, 2008) included an expansive five movement suite for jazz quintet and string quartet, while The Music of Paul Motian (Sunnyside, 2011) featured stately arrangements performed by two electric guitarists and a traditional ...

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Joel Harrison 7: Search

Read "Search" reviewed by John Kelman

Over the past decade, Joel Harrison has created a body of work distinct in its eclectic and multifaceted reach. Compositionally, the guitarist has worked in a variety of contexts, from the ambitious five-movement suite for string quartet and jazz quintet of The Wheel (Innova, 2008) and the pan-cultural, genre-busting Harbor (HighNote, 2007), where he found a particularly strong foil in Parisian guitarist Nguyên Lê, to his very personal and irrefutably modern homage to the emergent electric music of the early ...


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