Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

28

Joel Harrison 7: Search

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
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 string quartet.

Search contains some of Harrison's most seamlessly integrated writing for disparate forces to date. Supported by an archetypal jazz rhythm section, comprised of pianist Gary Versace, bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Clarence Penn, Harrison is joined by tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin and two string players: violinist Christian Howes and cellist Dana Leong, who have both collaborated with the guitarist in similar contexts before.

The septet's broad instrumental palette lends the album a wide dynamic range that keenly exploits Harrison's versatile gifts as a composer; he solos infrequently however, allowing his sidemen ample opportunity to express themselves. Harrison's harmonious contrapuntal themes underscore the bulk of the record, as typified on the panoramic opener, "Grass Valley and Beyond," where Versace's prismatic cadences and McCaslin's intervallic salvos paint a vibrant aural canvas; the saxophonist's dramatic altissimo crescendos and multiphonic flourishes punctuate the proceedings like rich impasto accents. Howes and McCaslin engage in spirited interplay with the cagey rhythm section on the capricious swinger "All the Previous Pages Are Gone," while "A Magnificent Death" and "The Beauty of Failure" exhibit a range of classicist tendencies; the former ascends from hypnotic minimalist motifs to a rapturous climax, the later weaves lyrical thematic variations into a romantic coda.

The session concludes with two unrelated, but unexpectedly complementary covers: a vivacious reading of Allman Brothers Band's "Whipping Post" and a sublime interpretation of Olivier Messiaen's "O Sacrum Convivum." The classic rock staple is given respectful treatment, but surprisingly, it's Leong's sinuous cello that drives the bluesy number, bolstered by Penn's pugilistic drumming. Conversely, Harrison's introspective fretwork accentuates the mystical ethereality of Messiaen's recast choral motet, setting the stage for the titular closer, a fugue-like postlude for solo piano that incisively encapsulates the date's multifaceted approach—reconfirming Harrison's sophisticated compositional acumen in the process.

Track Listing: Grass Valley and Beyond; A Magnificent Death; All the Previous Pages are Gone; The Beauty of Failure; Whipping Post; O Sacrum Convivium; Search.

Personnel: Joel Harrison: guitar; Donny McCaslin: tenor saxophone; Gary Versace: piano, Hammond B-3; Christian Howes: violin; Dana Leong: cello; Stephan Crump: bass; Clarence Penn: drums.

Title: Search | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns CD/LP/Track Review Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Song of No Regrets CD/LP/Track Review Song of No Regrets
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Sounding Tears CD/LP/Track Review Sounding Tears
by John Sharpe
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Lighthouse CD/LP/Track Review Lighthouse
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Kill The Boy CD/LP/Track Review Kill The Boy
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Rain or Shine CD/LP/Track Review Rain or Shine
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 15, 2017
Read "Like Songs Like Moons" CD/LP/Track Review Like Songs Like Moons
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 13, 2017
Read "Second City" CD/LP/Track Review Second City
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 1, 2017
Read "Live From A&R Studios New York August 26th 1971" CD/LP/Track Review Live From A&R Studios New York August 26th 1971
by Doug Collette
Published: July 29, 2017
Read "Undertaker Please Drive Slow" CD/LP/Track Review Undertaker Please Drive Slow
by Glenn Astarita
Published: January 15, 2017
Read "For Free" CD/LP/Track Review For Free
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: February 13, 2017
Read "This Is The Uplifting Part" CD/LP/Track Review This Is The Uplifting Part
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 22, 2017

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!