Cory Weeds, who is the executive producer of Soundview, is also the major domo behind The Cellar Music Group. This Vancouver, B.C. entity is committed to providing black artists with the opportunity to record and showcase their talent under the guidance of well-known trumpeter Jeremy Pelt. This initial release features trumpeter Bruce Harris and provides him with the launch pad to pay tribute to his family and community in the Bronx.
Accompanied by pianist Sullivan Fortner, bassist David Wong, drummer Aaron Kimmel as well as vocalist Samara Joy on two tracks, Harris takes the band through a set of compositions which were written by African American composers (save one), all of whom made New York City their home.
The disc's title track, a Harris original, leads off in a mambo beat that is established by Wong's ostinato bass line and is then picked up the rhythm section. Both Harris and Fortner follow along with thematic statements as the beat continues in an irresistible way. "Satellite" by Gigi Gryce, although not as well known as a couple of his other compositions such as "Minority" or " Nica's Tempo," still has some of those unusual harmonic structures as the previously noted compositions. Harris is adept at navigating his way through this richly configured music.
The one composition that falls outside of the coterie of African American composers is the Johnny Mercer ballad "If You Were Mine." Vocalist Samara McClendon covers this number along with the Barry Harris composition " Bird Of Red And Gold." In an economical, elegant and resourceful way, McClendon delivers the numbers in an engaging and lyrical style. Hank Mobley's composition "Hank's Prank" is a burner. Harris delivers the hard bop theme in dazzling and decisive style, which is picked up by pianist Fortner, showing that he has his own ideas that are delivered with clarity.
There is a delightfully structured Duke Ellington medley featuring "Black Beauty," "Drop Me Off In Harlem" and "Echos Of Harlem." These evocative compositions, which were arranged by Andy Farber, gives the band a structure that allows them to settle into a recreated style without rigidity or sentimentality. The final track on this session is the Randy Weston number "Saucer Eyes." Offered at a brisk and spirited pace, Harris and Fortner show their energetic creativity and willingness to explore the boundaries of the composition.
Soundview; Satellite; Maybe It's Hazy; If You Were Mine; Hank's Plank; You're Lucky To Me;
Ellington Suite; Bird Of Red And Gold; Saucer Eyes.
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